July was Heathrow's third busiest month

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The Independent Online

BAA boosted the battered airline industry today by revealing that Heathrow enjoyed its third-busiest month on record during July.

The west London airport saw passenger numbers improve by 0.9 per cent on a year earlier, while there were smaller declines at Gatwick and Stansted.

Across its seven UK airports, BAA handled 14.5 million passengers, a fall of 2.4 per cent on July 2008, compared with decreases of 5.9 per cent in June and 7.3 per cent in May.

BAA reported a return to growth of 1.2 per cent in European scheduled traffic and 4.8 per cent in long-haul traffic, excluding North Atlantic flights. UK domestic traffic was 4.8 per cent lower and European charters fell 18.6 per cent.

The operator said today's traffic figures provided further evidence of stabilisation in passenger demand.

Heathrow's result of 6.5 million passengers in July took its total for the year to date to 37.7 million, a fall of 3 per cent on a year earlier.

At Gatwick the reduction on last year was cut from 7.6 per cent in June to 4.8 per cent in July, largely thanks to a 5.8 per cent increase in European schedule traffic.

Stansted's improvement saw a drop of 11.5 per cent in June reduced to 5.7 per cent in July, despite cuts in capacity by low-cost operators.

In Scotland, where the company has three airports, Edinburgh's traffic grew by 5.6 per cent, the fourth consecutive month the airport has recorded growth.





At Glasgow, traffic was down by 12.9 per cent and at Aberdeen the airport handled 9 per cent fewer passengers than a year earlier. The decline in traffic at Southampton reduced from 7.9 per cent in June to 0.9 per cent in July.

BAA also said Heathrow recorded its highest ever figure for the average number of passengers per aircraft - at 162. This was after a 3 per cent reduction in the number of flights and a 0.9 per cent increase in passenger numbers.

Today's signs of a pick up in demand will offer encouragement to British Airways, which last month reported its first ever April to June loss.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said at the time that trading conditions remained "very challenging" but added there had been some stabilisation in the pace of decline in the number of passengers flying.

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