BAA blames Olympics for drop in traffic

HEATHROW operator BAA yesterday said that airports saw a decline in passenger numbers in August as tourists stayed away during the Olympic Games.

Total usage across its five sites was down two per cent on the same month last year, with Heathrow seeing a fall of 1.9 per cent to 6.5m passengers.

“The reduction was more pronounced in the first two weeks of August (down 4.6 per cent) than in the rest of the month (up 0.3 per cent),” the firm said in a statement.

“This suggests a continuation of the ‘Olympics effect’ reported in July, with UK passengers staying at home as well as non-Olympic visitors from overseas choosing to defer their journeys.”

BAA registered a five per cent drop in passenger flights at Stansted, its secondary London airport, along with a decline in usage at Southampton. However the firm’s Scottish airports and freight business showed strong growth.

In the run up to the Olympics that had been fears that Heathrow would be unable to cope with thousands of athletes arriving and departing in a short space of time.

But the fears came to nothing, leading BAA‚Äąchief executive Colin Matthews to say he was “proud” of the airport’s performance and thank staff for their efforts.

“We intend to combine the best of the Games experience with Heathrow’s ongoing investment programme to steadily improve the airport for our passengers and airlines,” he added.