AIRPORT owner BAA yesterday unveiled plans for a £1bn refurbishment of Heathrow’s Terminal 2, which will allow capacity at the depot to grow by 11.5m to around 30m passengers each year by 2019. <br /><br />The environmentally friendly refurbishment (pictured), part of a £4.8bn investment at the airport in west London, will house airlines belonging to the Star Alliance network, including BMI and Lufthansa. <br /><br />The current building will be demolished, reopening in 2013 and extending into the present Terminal 1 site, which will be closed by then.<br /><br />BAA claims expansion is “crucial” for Heathrow to remain competitive.<br /><br />The news came as BAA reported a stabilisation of passenger numbers in July, with Heathrow – the UK’s largest airport – showing its first increase in traffic for three years.<br /><br />The group, which is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, handled a total of 14.5m passengers for the summer month at its seven UK airports, which also include Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh. <br /><br />The figure is a 2.4 per cent drop from July 2008, but represents a slowing in the rate of decline in passengers flying. <br /><br />For June, the number of people going through BAA’s airports was 5.9 per cent down year-on-year, while May saw a 7.3 per cent drop.<br /><br />Heathrow saw 6.5m passengers travelling through it last month, up 0.9 per cent from the previous year, and a three per cent cut in the rate of decline at the airport for the year to date.<br /><br />The fall in passenger numbers at Gatwick was just 4.8 per cent last month, compared with 7.6 per cent for June.<br /><br />Stansted saw a more impressive rate of improvement, as its decline dropped down from 11.5 per cent in June to 5.7 per cent in July.<br /><br /><strong>AER LINGUS<br /><br />TRAFFIC FIGURES</strong><br /><br />IRISH airline Aer lingus said yesterday its passenger traffic for July rose 8.2 per cent to 1.12m, as carriers worldwide start to see a slowdown in the slumping demand for air travel.<br /><br />But the company’s load factor, which measures how full planes are, fell to 82.3 per cent from 83.3 per cent in the same period last year.<br /><br />Aer Lingus also said the airline's long-haul load factor fell four per cent to 77 per cent with capacity falling by 12.7 per cent. The carrier also said it added bases at Gatwick and Belfast.