Airports operator BAA warns of tough 2010 as weather keeps 150,000 away

BAA, the Heathrow and Stansted airport operator, yesterday warned it faced a tough 2010 as it revealed that bad weather had stopped 150,000 passengers from travelling through its UK hubs last month.

Passenger traffic at BAA’s UK airports fell 4.2 per cent in 2009, with the number of passengers travelling in December dropping by nearly one per cent compared to last year as the bad weather caused cancellations and delays. The figures, which do not include the recently-sold Gatwick, showed that 106.9m passengers passed through BAA’s six remaining UK airports last year.

The rate of decline did slow in the last three months of the year, although the pre-Christmas cold snap meant the December 2009 passenger total was 0.9 per cent down on December 2008.

BAA boss Colin Matthews said: “2009 was a difficult year for our airline customers. Towards the end of the year, we saw signs of improvements, particularly at Heathrow, but there are more challenging times ahead in 2010.”

Passengers numbers fell 1.5 per cent at Heathrow compared to 2008. But traffic did pick up during December, when numbers grew by 1.2 per cent, driven by an increase in European and long-haul traffic to Asia, Africa and Australia. Stansted had a 10.7 per cent drop, while Glasgow had the biggest decline, with 7.2m passing through.