BAA sees passenger numbers rise

Image caption,
BAA's Heathrow Airport enjoyed a better month in January after criticism in December

Airports operator BAA said 7.5m people used its airports in January, a rise of 3.8% compared with the year before, with strong growth at Heathrow.

BAA saw a rise in passengers at five of its six UK airports, with only Stansted recording a fall last month.

BAA said Heathrow, criticised for its performance during the winter weather, had its best January since 2006.

Meanwhile, budget airline Flybe has said that it flew 1.2% fewer passengers in the three months to 31 December.

Chinese growth

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said its figures reflected an "improving economic environment".

Heathrow recorded an increase of 4.6% to 5.05m passengers, although services in January 2010 were disrupted by bad weather.

BAA said in a statement that Heathrow had had it strongest long-haul performance in the airport's history, supported by growth on Chinese and Indian routes.

Air cargo, a reflection of international trade, remained strong, BAA said, with an 8.5% overall increase at its airports and a 9.3% gain at Heathrow.

BAA operates six airports in the UK - Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton.

Passenger recovery

Flybe, which operates from several airports, including Gatwick and Southampton, said that it was forced to cancel nearly 2,000 flights during the pre-Christmas snow chaos.

It meant that passenger numbers in the last three months of 2010 fell from 1.72m to 1.7m for the same period in 2009.

But Flybe estimated that passenger numbers would have been 4.8% higher without the impact of the severe weather.

The company said January had got off to a good start, with the number of seats occupied up 9% last month compared with the same month last year.

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