UK airports witness record passenger growth in 2015 putting pressure on government to respond to Airports Commission report

James Nickerson
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(FILES) Crowds of passengers are picture
Passenger growth has recovered since the financial crisis (Source: Getty)

UK airports saw passenger growth take off to record levels in 2015 after a fight back from the financial crisis of 2008-09, new figures show.

Over 251m passengers used UK airports in 2015, representing an increase of 5.6 per cent on the previous year, putting pressure on the government to respond to the Airports Commission Final Report, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operations Association, which represents over 50 airports across the UK, said.

The figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority are the highest ever recorded, indicating how "airports across the UK have worked incredibly hard to battle back from the economic recession and financial crisis of 2008-09, when passenger numbers fell markedly", Caplan added.

"The sheer scale of this passenger growth, however, does have consequences, as on current projections it is likely that a number of airports across the UK will reach capacity quicker than was anticipated even a few years ago."

Capland continued: "In 2013 the Department for Transport’s highest scenario forecasts estimated there would be 235m people travelling through UK airports – in the event, the figure is 17m passengers higher.

"The sector will do everything it can to respond to and accommodate this growth, but we need the government to do its bit as well, by responding to the Airports Commission Final Report by the summer and by setting out in an updated Aviation Policy Framework how it will enable and support making better use of existing capacity and also expansion at all airports which require it across the country."

The government came under fire last year after it appeared to kick the decision on airport capacity into the long grass after the Davies Commission recommended building a third runway at Heathrow.

In December business groups slammed the government over signals that a decision may not be made until late 2016.

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