Heathrow hits record as flights to Brazil and Middle East soar

Marion Dakers
HEATHROW Airport yesterday heralded a surge in passengers from Brazil and the Middle East for its record traffic numbers for 2012.

Almost 70m passengers passed through the gates of Britain’s busiest airport last year, a rise of 0.9 per cent.

In December alone, traffic jumped two per cent to 5.6m, making it Heathrow’s busiest ever end to a year.

The firm said there was strong growth from the Brazilian market as airlines added flights, while destinations in the Middle East bounced back following political upheaval in 2011.

European traffic also rose, though growth came chiefly from the cornerstone economies of Germany and France, while traffic from Greece and Portugal fell.

Heathrow is effectively full – 471,341 flights were made at the airport, just under its cap of 480,000 – and so growth came from airlines flying larger and fuller planes, it said yesterday.

The overall load factor at Heathrow last year was 75.6 per cent, slightly higher than the 75.2 per cent level posted in 2011.

Cargo traffic fell 1.3 per cent.

“The figures for 2012 show Heathrow is delivering higher passenger numbers despite a tough economic climate,” said chief executive Colin Matthews. “At the same time passenger satisfaction reached record levels.”

At Stansted, which Heathrow’s parent company is selling, annual traffic fell 3.2 per cent to 17.46m. Final bids for the airport are due this week.