UK demand down in 2008 Q2; 11 out of 23 airports report falling traffic in June

Image: Protest
It has stopped expanding (for now): London Stansted has seen passenger numbers fall for eight straight months. Across London’s five major airports only London City and Luton have reported growth every month this year.

Passenger demand at airports across the UK has been down in two of the last three months according to latest CAA statistics. Traffic was down 1.6% in April, possibly due to the re-timing of Easter in March this year and the high-profile baggage handling problems endured by British Airways passengers at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5. Traffic was up 0.9% in May but fell 1.0% in June according to provisional figures.

The lack of growth has seriously impacted British Airways which reported an 88% drop in quarterly pre-tax profits to just £37m ($73.3m) citing “unprecedented fuel prices, economic slowdown and weaker consumer confidence” as the main causes.

Chart: London Airport growth
Source: UK CAA

Across London’s five major airports only London City and Luton have reported growth every month this year. London City has been reporting double-digit growth since the beginning of 2007. London Stansted on the other hand has seen passenger numbers fall for eight straight months. The baggage handling fiasco at T5 certainly seems to have impacted Heathrow’s figures in April (down 3.2%) but since then things seem to have returned to normal.

Chart: Scotland and N Ireland growth
Source: UK CAA

In Scotland and Northern Ireland only Belfast City is showing significant growth with traffic up a quarter thanks to Ryanair’s decision to base aircraft there. Glasgow International has now gone 10 straight months without seeing an increase in traffic.

Chart: Midlands and north growth
Source: UK CAA

In the Midlands five of the seven airports tracked reported a downturn in traffic at some point during the last three months with only Birmingham and East Midlands maintaining consistent growth. Newcastle’s traffic has been down more than 5% for eight straight months now.

Chart: South and south aiport growth
Source: UK CAA

In the south and south-west airports had been performing well in recent months but in June traffic was reported down at Bournemouth, Cardiff and Exeter. Bristol and Southampton which had been reporting healthy growth both saw their growth rates cut by around five percentage points.

Poland and Hungary growing fast, Czech Republic market still shrinking

In the first half of 2008 traffic to and from Poland was up 32% while Hungarian traffic was up 26% thanks to new routes from Belfast International, Bristol, Liverpool, East Midlands and Glasgow Prestwick. Other major country markets reporting double-digit growth were Egypt (+19.7%), Turkey (+16.7%) and UAE (+15.7%).

Major markets showing the biggest drop in traffic were Czech Republic (-10.1%), Belgium (-9.1%), Netherlands (-6.1%) and South Africa (-5.6%). The big French, German and Italian markets were also all down between 1% and 3%. Traffic to Spain and the US was virtually unchanged while the Irish market was up almost 4%.

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