BAA blames fall in passenger numbers in July on the Olympics

LONDON | July brought fewer travellers to the five British airports of BAA, the operator owned by the Spanish company Ferrovial. BAA said 9.6 million passengers passed through its airports in July 2012, down -4.1% comparing to the same month in 2011. The drop in numbers at Heathrow was of -4.4% to 6.6 million passengers.

The loss was more pronounced in the second half of the month. The consortium explained in a press release that the fall in activity may have been a side consequence of London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games:

“It is likely that the Olympics played a part, with UK passengers staying at home as well as non-Olympic visitors from overseas choosing to defer their journeys.”

A less crowded infrastructure and swifter services could as well explain why those who chose to travel told the company that they enjoyed a good experience at Heathrow, with a record breaking month for customer satisfaction. The airport’s monthly survey asks passengers to rate their experience on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is excellent and 4 very good. In July, arrivals scored a record 4.3. Departures scored 4.22, the second highest departures score ever and a record for July.

“We are proud to have played our part in giving the very best welcome to London 2012 to athletes and visitors alike. Seven years of hard work and planning, the warmth and enthusiasm of more than a thousand volunteers and additional Border Force staff produced our strongest ever passenger satisfaction scores,” BAA CEO Colin Matthews commented.

Within the Heathrow figures, domestic traffic saw an increase of 1.2% compared with last year, while European scheduled traffic, significantly affected by the Olympics, fell -6.6%. North Atlantic traffic remained almost unchanged (+0.1%), and other long haul routes had a collective decline of 6.3%. Within that passenger numbers to and from India dropped -11% but Brazil saw an increase of 15% and China 3.4%.

At Stansted passenger numbers were down -5.3% compared with July 2011, Glasgow saw numbers fall by just -0.5% and Southampton -9.5%. Aberdeen though saw an increase in passenger numbers of 4.4% compared with July 2011, which meant a combined increase of 0.9% across the Scottish airports.

The amount of cargo carried across the group’s five airports was up 0.6% on the same month last year.

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