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BAA Reports UK Airports’ March 2009 Traffic

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BAA’s UK airports handled a total of 10.6 million passengers in March 2009, a reduction of 11.3% against the same month last year.

Around 2-3% points of the reduction can be attributed to the fact that, in 2008, the Easter travel peak centred around the third weekend of March whereas this year the main peak did not commence until April.

This would imply that the underlying rate of decrease in March which can be attributed to the difficult economic conditions was in the range of 8-9%.

European scheduled traffic was down by 11% and UK domestic by 8.6%. North Atlantic traffic was 17.6% lower while other long haul routes recorded a collective drop of 5.6% in passengers. Balanced against those reductions, across the group, passenger traffic to India increased by 1.8%, 0.1% to the Middle East and 8.9% to South America.

Among individual airports, Heathrow remains the most resilient, with traffic declining by only 7.5% (not taking account of the Easter effect). This is partly because of Heathrow's greater share of stronger long-haul markets, but is also due to rising numbers of transfer passengers, which underpin the airport's role as the UK's hub airport.

At other individual airports, not surprisingly it was those with the largest elements of leisure traffic which experienced the biggest traffic reductions in March. Gatwick was down by 17.7%, Stansted by 15.9%, Glasgow by 13% and Southampton by 12.3%. In contrast, Edinburgh was 3.6% lower compared to last year and Aberdeen dipped by 8.1%.

In total, the number of air transport movements at BAA airports was 4.1% down on last March, however, Heathrow and Aberdeen both had increases of 1.7% and 1.2% respectively. Cargo tonnage decreased by a total of 15.7%.

Contextually, on 8 April 2009, the Airports Council International (Europe) reported that: “As further evidence of the unprecedented impact of the economic crisis, the latest traffic report from ACI Europe – the voice of Europe’s airports, reveals a decrease of -13.6% in the overall passenger traffic at European airports in February 2009 compared with February 2008.”

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