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BAA Reports UK Airport Traffic for November 2009

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BAA’s UK airports handled a total of 9.9m passengers in November 2009. This amounted to an increase of 0.8% over the same month last year but, more significantly it marked the first time since March 2008 that BAA’s airports have recorded a collective increase, and follows a six-month run of gradually improving results.

In November, Heathrow’s continued resilience is highlighted by the fourth monthly increase in the last five months. Traffic at the UK’s main hub increased by 1.1%, reflecting improving consumer confidence and an improving load factor across each of Heathrow’s markets – the Heathrow-wide load factor was up 2.6 points to 70.7%. Gatwick marked its last full month under BAA ownership with a 4.5% increase, while Edinburgh was up 1.3% on last November.

Colin Matthews, BAA’s chief executive, said, “Global market conditions remain challenging, but these figures are encouraging. There is evidence that consumer confidence is growing and Heathrow’s strong network continues to perform well.”

Although still lower than this time last year, Stansted (down 2.7%) saw the sharpest reduction in its rate of decline since March 2008, as a result of a largely stable pattern of services in comparison with the first month of the winter season last year. Glasgow’s traffic was down by 4.7% in November, and there were also falls at Aberdeen (down 4.2%) and Southampton (down 2.5%). Naples airport showed growth of 8.3% compared to November 2008.

Among the major markets there were increases of 4.7% in European scheduled traffic and 4.1% in traffic on long haul routes (other than over the North Atlantic). The North Atlantic market was 6.8% lower than a year ago. Domestic traffic recorded a drop of 1.7%.

Reflecting a continuing trend of rising airline load factors there was a group wide drop of 1.4% in air transport movements, despite the increase in passengers carried. Group wide the load factor of planes leaving BAA’s airports, a measure of how full the aircraft are, was up 1.8 points to 71.2%. Cargo activity also continued its recent sharp improvement with an increase of 6.2% in what is usually one of the busiest months of the year. Only Glasgow failed to share in the widespread pattern of growth.

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