Heathrow ups passenger numbers despite weather


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The Independent Online

Passenger numbers at Heathrow Airport crept up last month despite heavy snowfall disrupting flights.

A total of 5.18 million people passed through Britain’s largest airport in January — up 0.3% year-on-year — with passenger numbers to China rising by 14.1%. The figures were also boosted by flights to Europe and North America although domestic travel fell 5.8%.

Heathrow’s load factor, which shows how full the average flight was, rose 2.1% to 70% in the period, but cargo was down 5.3%. The statistics are stronger than expected after snow led to flight delays last month.

In contrast, a dip in European traffic meant Gatwick Airport had slightly fewer passengers last month than in January 2012. About 2.1 million passengers passed through the West Sussex airport, 0.8% fewer than a year earlier. European traffic fell as did North Atlantic. However, non-North Atlantic long-haul passenger numbers rose alongside  UK and Channel Islands traffic.

Heathrow bosses will announce multi-billion-pound investment plans for the airport tomorrow. These are expected to reveal that £3 billion will be spent on an upgrade. It is also likely Heathrow will increase the amount it charges airlines, which could mean a rise in ticket prices.