UK air passenger decline stabilises

Airport operator BAA’s July traffic figures suggest passenger numbers may have stabilised following the downturn up to June.

Heathrow recorded its busiest July since 2006 and its third-highest monthly traffic on record. Passenger numbers were 0.9% up on a year ago at 6.5 million despite the airport handling 3% fewer flights. That compares with a 3.8% decline in passengers in the first half of the year.

The average number of passengers per flight at Heathrow in July was the highest ever at 162.

Traffic was down at BAA’s other major airports, but by less than in June. Gatwick recorded 4.8% fewer passengers compared with a 7.6% shortfall in June, while Stansted was down 5.7% last month – an improvement from 11.5% in June.

Edinburgh bucked the trend by recording a fourth consecutive month of growth, with 5.6% more passengers than a year ago. Glasgow traffic was down 12.9% and Aberdeen 9%.

The 2.4% fall in passengers across the group was chiefly due to declines in charter, US and domestic traffic.

But long-haul traffic excluding the North Atlantic was up 4.8% on a year ago and European scheduled traffic up 1.2%.

BAA handled 18.6% fewer charter passengers than last year – in line with the capacity taken out by TUI Travel and Thomas Cook and lost through the failure of XL Airways.

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