Recovery in BAA passenger traffic continued over Christmas

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The Independent Online

BAA, Britain's biggest airports operator, reported passenger numbers at its seven UK airports fell by 6.4 per cent in December on a year ago, as weak economies and the 11 September attacks left their mark on demand for air travel.

BAA, Britain's biggest airports operator, reported passenger numbers at its seven UK airports fell by 6.4 per cent in December on a year ago, as weak economies and the 11 September attacks left their mark on demand for air travel.

Passenger traffic has, however, recovered somewhat as the initial shock has worn off. BAA's North Atlantic traffic was down 13 per cent last month and other long-haul traffic was down 6 per cent, but it continued to improve on the dismal months of October and November, BAA said, with a big recovery seen over the Christmas holiday period. "Much of December's improvement can be attributed to very strong Christmas holiday traffic, where in the seven days ending 31 December, passenger numbers were similar to last year," BAA said.

The partial recovery at UK airports was mirrored at Germany's Frankfurt airport. Frankfurt's passenger total dropped 7 per cent in December to 3.2 million, from November's 11 per cent decline.

Meanwhile, cargo tonnage handled at BAA's airports, which include London's Heathrow, fell by 12.1 per cent, the 12th consecutive monthly decline.

The combination of the economic downturn and the US attacks sent the airline industry into a tailspin as demand for air travel plunged, causing two European carriers, Sabena and Swissair, to collapse and thousands of jobs to be cut.

Government figures showed that economic uncertainty and fear of terrorist attacks cut the number of tourists to the UK by 7 per cent in the three months to November.

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