BAA forecasts 35% rise in London airports traffic

THE AIRPORTS group BAA yesterday sought to strengthen its case for building Terminal Five at Heathrow by publishing new estimates forecasting a 35 per cent rise in passenger numbers at its three London airports by 2010.

According to BAA's latest 10-year forecast, passenger traffic will rise from just under 98 million in 1998-99 to 137 million in 2009-2010.

The biggest increase will be at Heathrow, which will see passenger numbers rise by 15 million to 75 million a year - a 23 per cent rise. But the biggest percentage increase will be at Stansted in Essex where passenger levels are forecast to grow by 192 per cent, from 7.4 million last year to 21.6 million. Gatwick's passenger numbers are forecast to rise from 29.5 million last year to 40.5 million.

The latest passenger forecast for the three airports is two million higher than BAA's previous forecast in September 1998, which put traffic numbers at 131 million in 2008-09.

The projected opening date for Terminal Five is spring 2007, supposing the go-ahead is given by the planning inspector and the Government. BAA said the increased forecast "reflects the growing levels of underlying demand and confirms the pressing need for the proposed Terminal Five in order to relieve increasing congestion at Heathrow".

BAA also produced new forecasts for capital expenditure, estimating investment would reach a peak of just under pounds 780m in 2005-2006. Of the investment that year, nearly pounds 600m is earmarked for Heathrow.

As the opening date for Terminal Five has been put back due to the length of the public inquiry, so the expenditure has switched to later years. In 2000-2001 BAA expects to spend pounds 434m, compared with a forecast 12 months ago of pounds 470m.

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