PASSENGERS flocked to Heathrow and Gatwick in August, after a lull last summer when Britons stayed at home to watch the Olympics.
Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, said traffic was up 7.7 per cent to almost 7m customers last month – or a rise of one per cent when the effect of London 2012 was excluded.
A move to larger planes at several airlines also played a part in the rise in passengers, with the average flight now carrying 168.9 passengers, up 6.9 per cent on last year. The load factor, a measure of how full each plane is, rose 2.6 percentage points to 82.7 per cent.
“However, don’t imagine this will solve the UK’s hub capacity crisis,” said boss Colin Matthews. “Only a larger hub airport can put the UK back at the forefront of international connectivity.”
Heathrow has asked the government’s airports commission for its backing to build a new runway. This week it revealed it had given funding to a new campaign group named Back Heathrow, which is sending 400,000 tabloid-style papers to nearby residents to “identify and recruit local support”.
Meanwhile Gatwick said its traffic rose 5.2 per cent to almost 4m passengers, which the south London airport said represented 2.5 per cent growth excluding the Olympic slump last year.
The airport said business routes to Scandinavia and EasyJet’s new service to Moscow were proving popular alongside its European holiday destinations.
Both airports posted a slide in cargo traffic, as air freight demand around the world remains subdued.
•BRITISH Airways said yesterday it will expand its no-frills fares, which come without a check-in baggage allowance, to some European routes at Heathrow and City airports.