Monday 13 January 2020 7:32 am

Heathrow airport breaks Christmas passenger record

Heathrow airport welcomed a record 80.9m passengers in 2019 to notch a ninth consecutive year of traffic growth, it revealed today.

Larger and fuller aircraft pushed the passenger growth as Heathrow airport witnessed its busiest December ever, when 6.7m passengers travelled through the airport over Christmas and New Year, up 3.1 per cent compared to last year.

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UK flights, such as Flybe’s routes to Newquay and Guernsey, saw the biggest surge over the festive period at 10.6 per cent, while British Airways increased capacity on flights to Scotland for Hogmanay.

Middle East destinations enjoyed 7.3 per cent growth as Liverpool fans flew to watch their team win the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar.

US flights also took off, with bookings up 7.1 per cent on new services to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

However, Aisa-Pacific flights fell 2.9 per cent in December to 951,000 bookings and African flights dropped four per cent to 410,000 in the holidays.

“The past decade has been transformational for Heathrow and the investments that we’ve made in our infrastructure, our people and our processes are paying off for passengers,” chief executive John Holland-Kaye said.

“By the end of this new decade of delivery, a third runway will have given Britain more hub capacity than our rivals in France or Germany, making this country a winner and the best-connected country in the world.”

Cargo flights were also popular as companies shipped over 126,000 metric tonnes through Heathrow airport in October, with UK growth up 25.3 per cent.

But cargo shipments to and from the EU fell 8.7 per cent on an annual basis in December and dropped 14.8 per cent over the entire year.

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North American cargo flights fell 9.3 per cent last month while Asia-Pacific cargo flights dropped 12.1 per cent, contributing to an overall December decline of 8.4 per cent.

“Regular, direct flights to all the major cities in the US, India and China – the great economies of the 21st century – will put all of Britain at the heart of global trade,” Holland-Kaye said.