BAA passenger numbers up

BAA saw its first rise in domestic passengers in two years for last month as Brits started flying again after improvements in the economy.

The operator reported that the number of people flying between British destinations grew 1.1 per cent to 1.35m.

BAA said its six British airports, including Heathrow, had an overall 2.4 per cent rise in passengers to 7.13m last month compared with 2009.

Heathrow passenger numbers shot up by 5.3 per cent.

Long long haul traffic rose by four per cent overall with strong services to China up 6.8 per cent and the Middle East 11.1 per cent and South America soaring by 17.6 per cent.

However, Stansted’s traffic dipped by 4.5 per cent compared to last February.

Glasgow and Aberdeen were down 5 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively while Edinburgh climbed 3.5 per cent.

But there was a 23.2 per cent increase in the tonnage of cargo handled across the airports.

BAA chief executive officer Colin Matthews warned that conditions were still tough and the rises were compared with February 2009 when some services were hit by snow.

He said: "Heathrow remains resilient and other airports are beginning to see encouraging signs.

"However traffic remains depressed, reflecting tough conditions in the economy generally and in aviation specifically."

Gatwick, which BAA sold in December for £1.5bn, reported a 3.2 per cent increase in passenger numbers to two million.

The airport said the biggest jump in passenger numbers during February was to European destinations, with a 10.5 per cent rise.