BAA air traffic edges higher

City A.M. Reporter
Passenger traffic at BAA airports rose slightly last month compared with March 2010, helped by the popularity of flights to China and India from London's Heathrow and growth at its three Scottish airports.

BAA, majority owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, said 8.27 million passengers flew from its UK airports last month compared with 8.19 million in March 2010 when volumes were affected by British Airways strikes.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, served 5.33 million passengers, up 2.3 per cent.

"The valuable trading connections to India and mainland China continue to see strong growth (from Heathrow), which suggests improving economic circumstances and the increasing importance of these economies," said BAA chief executive Colin Matthews.

The airport operator said the Heathrow-New York run continued to be the world's most popular transcontinental route with more than 3.6 million passengers flying from Heathrow to New York in the last year.

March 2011 saw an average of one departure an hour from Heathrow to New York during the day and one every 15 minutes during peak evening hours, BAA said.

BAA's Scottish airports recorded a 5.8 per cent increase against the same month last year but traffic at London's Stansted airport was down 7.4 per cent on last year, while Southampton in the south of England fell 8.7 per cent.

"In the UK, consumer confidence remains fragile, affecting airports up and down the country. Continued rises in the price of oil are a concern for airlines and passengers in all our markets," said Matthews.