February 2012 traffic figures – BAA’s airports

Posted: 12 March 2012 | | No comments yet

7.3m passengers travelled through BAA’s airports in February, a rise of 2.5% on the previous year…

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Passenger numbers rise in February

7.3m passengers travelled through BAA’s airports in February, a rise of 2.5% on the previous year. Heathrow demonstrated resilience with nearly 4.8m passengers passing through the airport’s doors last month, a rise of 3.8%. After adjusting for the effect of the leap year, BAA as a whole handled 7.1m passengers, down 0.9%, and Heathrow 4.6m passengers, a rise of 0.3%.

On an absolute basis, passenger numbers also rose at Glasgow (3.2%), Edinburgh (0.1%), Southampton (4.5%) and Aberdeen (18.7%), but were down at Stansted (-4.9%).

Across the group, there was a strong demand for all destinations except the UK and Ireland. North Atlantic traffic was up 7.4%, with other long haul destinations up 1.3%. Passenger numbers on European scheduled routes were up 2.8%, whilst European Charter traffic benefitted from good skiing conditions and was up 17.1%.

At Heathrow, the best performing sector was South America which saw passenger numbers rise 51.5%, with Brazil showing an increase of 89.0%. North Atlantic passenger numbers were up 7.5%. Domestic traffic was again the worst performing market, with passenger numbers down 2.8% compared with a year earlier. European scheduled traffic was up 4.6%, with some of the fastest passenger growth seen by non-EU countries such as Iceland (27.1%), Norway (20.0%) and Switzerland (11.5%).

February also saw Heathrow announce the first ever flights between London and Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, which will begin in June and be operated by China Southern Airlines. The deal has taken eight years to complete following initial discussions between BAA and the airline in 2004. Because Heathrow is operating at 99.2% of its permitted capacity, China Southern has had to wait for suitable take-off and landing slots to become available from other airlines before it has been able to add the new route.

In the meantime, China Southern has been operating flights to and from Paris, giving French companies an eight year head start in building new trade links with China. Even now, Paris will still have four times as many flights to Guangzhou than the UK.

While the UK is adding one new route to the world’s most important emerging market in 2012, its European competitors will serve a further seven additional routes to China’s interior. Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam airports will boast direct flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao this year.

BAA Chief Executive, Colin Matthews, said:

“BAA’s airports have continued to demonstrate their resilience in the weak economic environment we currently face.

“We’re delighted that China Southern Airlines has chosen Heathrow as the airport to link London with Guangzhou. We would like to welcome new routes from other airlines that could bring jobs and growth to the UK. The centre of gravity in the world economy is shifting to emerging markets and we need to forge new links with them. Instead, because of capacity constraints, we are drifting towards a future where the UK will be cut off from some of the world’s most important markets.”

Download detailed BAA traffic figures for February 2012 (26KB PDF)

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