Heathrow traffic numbers bolster BAA’s expansion plans

Heathrow saw 6.3 million passengers pass through its terminals, a record for September and up 0.6% on the same month last year, BAA said in a press release.

European scheduled traffic overall was up 0.2%. Within that passenger numbers to and from Spain were up 6.2%, but Greece and Portugal both saw their traffic fall 4.8%. North Atlantic traffic continued to perform well, up 4.5% on last September. Brazil and China passenger numbers increased 14% and 5.9% respectively whilst traffic to and from India fell 7%.

Cargo performed well, up 2.5% across the group with a 1.7% rise at Heathrow and a 5.2% increase at Stansted.

With this positive background, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews sent a message of caution to Downing Street, which has set a commission to study a possible expansion of airport capacity in southeast England. “Traffic to and from the BRIC economies, other than India, demonstrates the on-going importance of hub capacity to connect the UK to growth markets,” Matthews remarked.

“The Davies Commission must rigorously and objectively assess every option to meet our country’s economic needs.” The commission is expected to publish its conclusions in three years time.

Overall, nearly 9.2m passengers passed through BAA’s five airports in September 2012, the same as September 2011 and an improvement on the falls of 4.1% in July and 2.0% in August.

At Stansted, passenger numbers were down 4.0% compared with September 2011, whilst traffic through Southampton declined 4.4%. Traffic through Aberdeen was up 1.4% and Glasgow was up 5.6%, resulting in a total increase at the Scottish airports of 4.4%.