Heathrow and Gatwick, the two airports in the South-east of England at loggerheads over expansion plans, have both experienced their busiest June ever.
Heathrow said that a 1.1 per cent rise in passengers to 6.7 million, who travelled through its terminals on 40,626 flights, marked a record June.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, hailed the numbers as supporting the case for a third runway at Heathrow, as favoured by Sir Howard Davies’ review last week. “It’s now a binary choice for the British Government,” he said. “We either expand Heathrow – creating jobs, growth, a rebalanced economy and lucrative export routes – or we do nothing and retreat as a nation. The answer is obvious, so let’s get on with it.”
Passenger volumes from Heathrow last month were particularly strong to Mexico, China and Turkey, up 23.6 per cent, 15.2 per cent and 3.4 per cent, respectively. It also said cargo volumes rose 4.3 per cent over the past 12 months. Its update came as protesters opposed to a third runway at the airport disrupted flights, leading to delays and 13 cancellations in the morning.
At the same time Gatwick said it saw 3.8 million passengers pass through its doors in June – a 5 per cent increase on last year. It was the 28th consecutive month of growth.
The airport’s long-haul routes were a large factor in the increased passenger numbers. North Atlantic routes rose 14.3 per cent, with US routes up 20.6 per cent, largely driven by passenger take up of Norwegian Air’s low-cost routes.
There was also a jump in traffic to Latin America, the Middle East and central Asia.
Gatwick’s load factor, a measure of how full the aircraft were, was consistent at 86.5 per cent.
Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick – which the Davies Review described as a “credible” option for another runway, added: “Gatwick remains the only deliverable option for expansion.”
Sir Howard is set to be grilled by the House of Lords economic affairs committee later this week on his decision to back Heathrow.
Mr Wingate said: “We will continue to engage actively with government at all levels to show why Gatwick expansion is the only means by which we can sustain the low-cost revolution that has driven aviation growth over the last two decades, and the only choice which can actually deliver the aviation capacity that the UK desperately needs.”
He said the growth in transatlantic routes was “the latest demonstration of the way the industry is moving – with a new generation of carriers and aircraft fuelling the low cost long-haul revolution”.