September was Heathrow Airport’s busiest month ever, sparking hopes that the international economy is strengthening.
Last month, 6,221,219 travellers departed from the airport, an increase of 7.6 per cent (437,608) over September 2009 and the largest year-on-year monthly increase since July 2004.
Among the destinations most in demand by travellers are Heathrow’s BRIC routes (these are destinations not served from any other airport in the UK): Brazil, which grew by 27.1 per cent to 31,546 passengers; China, which increased by 10.3 per cent to 58,330 and Russia, up by 23.7 per cent to 70,021. The demand for flights to India from Heathrow fell slightly – by 0.3 percent to 178,607.
North America was back on travellers’ radars last month. Flights overall were up by 6.5 per cent (88,203) over last September to 1,442,193. South America departures were also up, by 16.4 per cent (6,769) to 47,973.
European destinations also saw an upswing, increasing by 11.7 per cent (247,196) to 2,352,806. Highlighting Heathrow’s location as a gateway to Europe, the most popular routes were to Paris (116,509), Amsterdam (123,808) and Frankfurt (125,258 passengers).
There are a couple of factors behind the growth – increasing business travel and the reinstatement of flights that had been removed by airlines over the past year or so.
Across BAA’s six UK airports, 9,988,178 passengers travelled during September, an increase of 3.3 per cent (320,370) from 9,667,808 in September 2009. Edinburgh rose by 2.2 per cent to 873,195 while Southampton’s figures remained static, rising slightly to 174,570 from 174,501.
Numbers at Stansted Airport, a noted hub for low-cost airlines, were down – from 6.1 per cent in August to 4.3 per cent (80,394 to 1,775,533).
In Scotland, traffic at Glasgow declined by 5.7 per cent and Aberdeen by 5.1 per cent.
In a statement on the company’s website, Colin Matthews, BAA’s chief executive, said:
“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.”