UK airports handle more flights

Passengers at UK airports

BAA, operator of seven UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow airport, handled more passengers over the busy Christmas holiday period than last year.

Passenger numbers at BAA’s UK airports were up 0.7% in December over the same month in 2006. Total passenger numbers for 2007 at the seven airports - which also include Stansted airport, Edinburgh airport, Southampton airport and Aberdeen airport - were almost 150 million, an increase of 1.6% compared to 2006.

In December long haul flights to North America saw passenger numbers up 6.3%, while there was also a 2.5% increase on other long haul routes. However, European scheduled traffic was unchanged on 2006, passengers on European charter flights fell by 1.7%, and passenger numbers on domestic flights declined by 3.5%.

Star performers were Heathrow, where passenger numbers were up by 3.2%, Gatwick, up by 2.7%, and Southampton airport, which saw the number of passengers grow by 2.6%.

But other UK airports didn’t fare so well. At Stansted there were 8.6% fewer passengers as Ryanair and Air Berlin axed some flights. Of the Scottish airports, Glasgow was also down, by 5%, as was Aberdeen, by 2.2%. But Edinburgh bucked the trend, rising by 3.6%.

Low cost airline Ryanair saw passenger numbers increase by a whopping 18% in December compared to the previous year. Total passenger numbers were up from 3.36 to 3.95 million people.

Rival low fare airline easyJet also flew more passengers over the Christmas holiday period. Total numbers were 2.64 million, up 9.9% on December 2006. And as it introduced more new flights from various UK airports the total number of passengers carried by easyJet in 2007 rose by an impressive 13.5% to 38.2 million.

However, the number of empty seats on easyJet flights increased in 2007. The percentage of seats filled fell from 84.6% in 2006 to 83.5% in 2007. And the number of empty seats in December also increased, as the percentage of seats filled was only 78.9%. As a result easyJet shares slipped by more than 12% as the City expressed concerns about the airline’s ability to fill seats as more new flights are introduced.

Written by: Nick Purdom


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