Airports suffer from Olympic effect

 

The number of passengers using the UK's main airports dipped last month as people stayed at home to watch the Olympics.

The five UK airports run by BAA, which include Heathrow, handled 9.6 million passengers in July 2012 - a 4.1% decline on the July 2011 figure.

Numbers at Heathrow fell 4.4% to just under 6.57 million, while Stansted was down 5.3%, Southampton fell 9.5% and Glasgow dropped 0.5%.

The only BAA airport to see an increase last month was Aberdeen, where numbers were up 4.4%.

The Olympic effect was most marked on European scheduled flight passenger numbers which fell 6.6% at the five BAA airports last month.

North Atlantic traffic was almost unchanged, while other long-haul routes declined 6.3%.

The increased number of Border Force staff handling immigration at Heathrow in the run-up to the Olympics led to a record-breaking monthly for customer satisfaction at the west London, BAA said.

On a scale of one to five, with five being excellent and four being very good, arrivals scored a record 4.3 points last month, with departures scoring 4.22.

There was also a fall - albeit a very small one - in the numbers of passengers using Gatwick Airport, which is now operated by American company Global Infrastructure Partners.

The West Sussex airport handled just under 3.63 million passengers last month - 0.1% fewer than in July 2011.

Gatwick's chief financial officer Nick Dunn said the slight drop was "in line with industry expectations where fewer Britons were predicted to travel abroad in favour of staying at home to soak up the Games".

PA

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