Air travel recovers from terror attacks on US

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The Independent Online

Air travel has recovered from the effects of 11 September according to figures released yesterday showing that passenger numbers through BAA's seven UK airports rose fractionally in February.

Air travel has recovered from the effects of 11 September according to figures released yesterday showing that passenger numbers through BAA's seven UK airports rose fractionally in February.

This is the first time that traffic levels have risen in the past six months and demonstrates that the airline industry has recovered a lot more quickly from the terrorist attacks on the US than it did from the Gulf war in 1991. Then, it took 10 months for passenger numbers to start to grow again.

The recovery in traffic is largely due to the rapid growth of the no-frills airlines and heavy price-cutting on long-haul routes by full-service airlines, particularly on North Atlantic services.

BAA said that it handled a total of 8.2 million passengers in February – a 0.3 per cent rise on the same month a year earlier. After the start of the Gulf war in January, 1991, it took until the following October for traffic levels to begin to rise again.

One of the biggest increases last month was recorded at Stansted, home to three budget airlines, where passenger numbers rose by 16 per cent compared with February, 2001.

Domestic passenger numbers grew by 3.4 per cent and short-haul European traffic was up by 0.5 per cent. Although traffic on the North Atlantic was down by 7.7 per cent, this was a huge improvement on the 31 per cent decline experienced last October, the first full month after the attacks. Other long-haul traffic was down by 1.4 per cent, compared with a decline of 16 per cent last October.

The biggest area of growth last month was on routes from the UK to Ireland where a fare war and the launch of additional services helped produce a 14.6 per cent increase in passengers.

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