Gatwick traffic up in March but halted yesterday after plane fire

 
Marion Dakers
GATWICK Airport yesterday cheered March traffic growth of 3.9 per cent on last year, with the rising popularity of low-cost carriers helping to boost its figures.

London’s second biggest airport said an earlier Easter coupled with a boom in cheap short-haul routes had helped increase traffic.

More than 2.5m passengers passed through Gatwick in March, with the majority bound for Europe.

Over the last 12 months, Gatwick served 33.8m passengers – a jump of 6.9 per cent.

And underlying traffic rose three per cent, stripping out the damage done by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and industrial action to the previous year’s figures.

Cargo traffic rose by 8.1 per cent compared to last year, though it was down 12.9 per cent on a rolling 12-month basis.

The figures were released as Gatwick suspended flights yesterday lunchtime following the emergency landing of a Virgin plane.

The airport grounded aircraft for almost three hours after a Virgin flight bound for Orlando made an emergency landing at 12.30pm.

Virgin said there were four minor injuries after the A330 plane’s crew spotted smoke in the cockpit and turned the flight around.

Gatwick warned passengers to expect delays and cancellations for the rest of the day as airlines cleared a backlog of flights.

It was the second time in the space of a week Gatwick has halted operations, following a stray hot air balloon grounding flights briefly on Friday morning.