Eurozone fears reduce flights from UK


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The Independent Online

The lure of souvlaki, sardines and spaghetti hasn't been enough to outweigh headlines about the eurozone crisis: fewer Britons are flying to Greece, Portugal and Italy this year.

Passenger figures from BAA, owner of Heathrow and Stansted airports, show the number of fliers from London's biggest airport to Greece slumped 11.3 per cent in May this year compared with last, while Portugal saw 11.4 per cent fewer British visitors. Overall, some 9.3 million people passed through BAA's arrival and departure lounges last month, a fall of 0.1 per cent on the year before which benefited from a late Easter and boost from the Royal wedding.

BAA's chief executive Colin Matthews said: "The impact of the eurozone crisis is still being felt with sharp falls in passenger numbers to the worst affected countries and reduced cargo traffic."

He claimed that showed "why the UK needs to urgently build better links to the countries whose economies are growing such as China, India and Brazil".

Stansted saw passengers numbers fall by 5.5 per cent, with European scheduled and long-haul traffic hit the hardest.

"With a strong bias towards leisure traffic, the switch in the bank holiday and school half terms from their usual timing in late May to early June this year accounted for some of the fall," BAA said yesterday.

Signs of the global economic slowdown remain with the decline in cargo traffic. Freight at Heathrow was down 3.8 per cent.