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BAA Reports September 2010 Traffic

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Heathrow Airport recorded its busiest September ever, with an increase in long-haul journeys offering hope of an improving international economy.

During September 2010 a total of 6,221,219 people flew from Heathrow, an increase of 7.6% (437,608) over September 2009, the largest year-on-year monthly increase since July 2004.

British foreign secretary William Hague last week pledged support for "giving our country the myriad of connections which will allow twenty-first century Britons to prosper and succeed" - a comment welcomed by Heathrow and reflected in the resurgence of long haul air travel.

Heathrow's BRIC routes – to destinations not served from any other UK airport - saw significant growth compared with last September. Brazil rose 27.1% to 31,546 passengers, China rose 10.3% to 58,330 and Russia increased by 23.7% to 70,021. India fell by 0.3% to 178,607.

Travellers from Heathrow to North America increased by 6.5% (88,203) over last September to 1,442,193 with South America up 16.4% (6,769) to 47,973. The most popular routes were New York (241,746), Dubai (153,319) and Dublin (134,500).

European scheduled destinations from Heathrow continued to grow, increasing 11.7% (247,196) to 2,352,806. The most popular routes were to Heathrow's main competitors, which are all hub airports: Frankfurt (125,258 passengers), Amsterdam (123,808) and Paris (116,509).

The growth was also supported by the reinstatement of flights previously removed from schedules and consolidated due to the recession and encouraging signs that business people are travelling again, following disruption in the early part of the year, caused by poor weather and the volcanic ash cloud.

Across all of BAA's UK airports, 9,988,178 passengers travelled during September - up 3.3% (320,370) from 9,667,808 last year. Edinburgh rose 2.2% to 873,195 while Southampton remained level rising to 174,570 from 174,501.

The decline in passenger numbers at Stansted slowed from 6.1% in August to 4.3%, with traffic falling 80,394 to 1,775,533 as a result of low-cost carriers removing flights. Glasgow's traffic declined by 5.7%, and Aberdeen by 5.1%, but these declines are contracting as carriers fill the gaps in services left by the collapse of flyglobespan.

Cargo imports and exports continued to beat pre-recession levels, rising 11.8% across the group to 144,469 tonnes. Heathrow, the UK's busiest freight port by value, shipped 123,680 tonnes, up 12.2% on last September. Heathrow is particularly important to the exports of low-weight, high-value goods: pharmaceuticals worth Ł0.8 billion, for example, were exported to the US via Heathrow in 2009.

“Heathrow's record September figures underline that transport links are vital to our economy. The growth reflects an improved outlook for our airline customers and an increase in business confidence, as shown by cargo figures which continue to outperform the pre-recession peak,” said Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA. “Our Ł1 billion-a-year investment programme continues, in order to offer our growing numbers of passengers a quicker, easier and more enjoyable travel experience. We have much still to do but are pleased to see a steady improvement in passenger perceptions of the airport.”

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