Heathrow saw 5.9 million passengers in March, the company said, a record for the month and up 3.9% on March 2012. The figures were driven by a record March average load factor (how full the flight is) of 75.8%, up 2.4 percentage points. This was on top of an increase in the average number of seats per aircraft, up 1.8% to 199.3, another record for the month. The integration of bmi into the British Airways network was the main driver of the increased numbers.
European traffic performed well, up 7.4%, despite the continuing weakness of the European economy. Amongst the countries where traffic increased were Italy (19.4%), France (18.9%), Germany (7.9%) and Norway (25.9%). Traffic to Greece dropped 21.1% on March last year.
All of the BRIC economies recorded growth, up 5.1% in total. China saw the strongest increase, up 15.1%, followed by India (3.9%), Russia (3.0%) and Brazil (2.9%). Middle Eastern traffic was the fastest growing region, up 9.2% overall on the same month last year. Elsewhere, traffic with Latin America also increased (3.9%), with a more modest 1.4% increase in traffic with North America. African routes saw a 5% decline in traffic.
In line with slow world trade, Heathrow’s cargo activity was down 2.3% in March.
“T5 being voted ‘best airport terminal in the world’ for the second year running shows that passengers appreciate progress at Heathrow,” CEO for Heathrow, Colin Matthews, said in a press release. “We will continue to improve Heathrow for passengers and airlines, opening the brand new Terminal 2 in summer 2014. We plan a further £3 billion of investment over the next five years.”
Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was named the world’s ‘Best Airport Terminal’ for a second time and Heathrow has been named ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ for a fourth time at this year’s World Airport Awards held on April 10.
The award reflects the findings of the independent Airport Service Quality survey which shows that the proportion of passengers rating their journey as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ has increased from 48% in 2007 to 72% today.
The Skytrax World Airport Survey is widely regarded as the quality benchmark for the world airport industry, assessing customer service and facilities across 388 airports in 2012. The World Airport Awards are independent of any airport control or input and are therefore an impartial benchmark of airport excellence and quality.
Since 2003 Heathrow has invested £11 billion in the airport and has recently announced plans to spend an additional £3 billion between 2014 and 2019. Heathrow will open the new Terminal 2 in 2014, a £2.5 billion investment which will result in most passengers travelling through new facilities.