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BAA Reports September 2009 UK Airports Traffic

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BAA’s seven UK airports handled a total of 13 million passengers in September 2009, 2.6% down on last year and a similar year on year result to that achieved in July and August. In March this year, traffic across the UK airports was down 11.3%, so recent figures suggest that while underlying market conditions remain soft, there are some signs of a recovery.

Heathrow Airport’s passenger traffic remained stable in the month of September 2009, showing a marginal decrease of 0.3% on September 2008. A 5% drop in aircraft movements and significantly improved capacity utilisation led to a sharp increase in load factor from 73.9% in September 2008 to 78.2% this September.

While Gatwick Airport’s overall numbers were down by 0.5% in September – the best year on year result since May 2008 – the airport recorded strong growth in important domestic and European scheduled markets (+5.8% and +8.7% respectively). Excluding North American traffic, which continues to be affected by the Open Skies agreement leading US airlines to relocate to Heathrow, passenger numbers grew 1.5% and the year on year effect of Open Skies will moderate significantly from October.

An 11% reduction in seat capacity flown at Stansted was matched by an almost identical decrease in passengers of 11.6%. Edinburgh Airport’s numbers grew for the sixth successive month (+3.8%), largely down to new low-cost scheduled European services. Glasgow Airport declined 8.9% and Aberdeen by 5.3%, both showing slower rates of decline. Southampton recorded a 4.6% drop.

, said, “Conditions remain challenging for the industry. Heathrow continues to perform well in its market, delivering strong long-haul performance on routes to India and the Middle East,” said Colin Matthews, BAA’s chief executive. “At Gatwick there are encouraging signs of growth, particularly in the European scheduled business and the overall numbers around the group appear to be improving.”

For the Ggroup as a whole in September 2009 all major market areas recorded decreases with the exception of long-haul markets such as India (+15.7%), the Middle East (+18%) and South America (+33%).

The number of air transport movements at BAA’s airports fell by 6.1% in September and cargo tonnage (-6.3%) dropped by a similar amount. Although still weak, the cargo result was the best recorded since November 2008.

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