Passengers down at BAA UK airports

Airport Scene

Passenger numbers at BAA’s seven UK airports were down 2% overall in January, but Gatwick and Edinburgh airport saw increases.

Edinburgh airport recorded an increase of 3.9% on January last year to 588,000 passengers, confirming it as Scotland’s busiest airport. In contrast rival Glasgow airport, until recently the most popular airport in Scotland, saw passenger numbers dip by 6.1% to 501,500. And Aberdeen airport also experienced a fall, of 4.7%.

As it established itself as the busiest airport in Scotland, international traffic at Edinburgh airport increased by 26%, with flights to Paris, Geneva and Prague particularly popular.

Traffic at Gatwick was up marginally, by 1%, but numbers at Heathrow fell by 1.1%. BAA says that the crash landing of a BA plane at Heathrow and strong winds later in the month were major contributing factors to the overall decline in passengers.

The biggest fall in the number of passengers was at Stansted airport, which was down by 9.3%. BAA blames this on the decision of Ryanair and Air Berlin to make cutbacks to their winter schedule from Stansted.

The smaller, regional airport, Southampton, also saw passenger numbers decline by 3% to just under 119,000. Passenger numbers for all BAA’s seven UK airports in January totalled 10.1 million.

Other trends emerge from the figures. Domestic flights saw the biggest downturn in January, down by 5.8%. European charter flights were also less popular, declining by 5.6%.

European scheduled flights were down too, by 1.7%, as were flights to the North Atlantic, down by 1.4%. But flights to Hong Kong and China saw a dramatic increase in passengers, up by 18%, another sign of China’s growing economic importance and popularity ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

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