Number of travellers using UK airports declines

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The Independent Travel

The number of air travellers using major UK airports declined to its lowest level for nine months in June, BAA said today.

The airport operator said a total of 12.7 million passengers passed through its airports last month, a reduction of 5.9 per cent on the same period last year.

But the firm, which saw a 7.3 per cent fall in May, said this was the best underlying figure since last September.

BAA had posted a 2.3 per cent decline in passenger numbers in April, but this was a bigger 6.8 per cent fall when the effect of a late Easter was stripped out.

Heathrow had a comparatively modest fall of 3.1 per cent due to the number of people it deals with that are transferring to other flights.

Stansted, known as the base for several low cost carriers including Ryanair and easyJet, was the worst affected, down 11.5 per cent.

It is down 14.4 per cent for the six months to June 2009, compared with the same period last year as carriers have slashed capacity at the airport.

BAA said European charter flights made up the only segment of the UK market not to have improved on performance in the last six months.

Domestic traffic was down 8.1 per cent in June, European scheduled flight passengers were reduced by 2.8 per cent and travellers on North Atlantic routes were 9.4 per cent lower.

Long haul flights were the most resilient sector, almost flat on last year at a 0.2 per cent reduction.

Edinburgh was the only airport to register an increase in traveller numbers, at 1.4 per cent, its third month of growth.

BAA's other airports around the country showed falls in passenger numbers.

Gatwick saw 7.6 per cent fewer passengers in June, while Glasgow and Aberdeen dropped 10.9 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively.

BAA is embroiled in a battle against the Competition Commission's (CC) decision to make it sell three of its airports.

The Commission ruled earlier this year that BAA's ownership of seven UK airports was anti-competitive and ordered the firm to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh.

BAA had already decided to sell Gatwick in West Sussex and said last month that that sale process was continuing.