Demand at UK airports down 2% in Q3; four Central European markets still reporting double-digit growth

Passenger demand at airports across the UK has been down in each month of the third quarter according to latest CAA statistics. Traffic was down 1.1% in July, down 1.0% in August and down 4.1% in September.

Chart: London Airports - Growth: January 2007 to September 2008
Source: UK CAA

Across London’s five major airports only London City and Luton have reported growth every month this year. For the first time this year Gatwick recorded a bigger drop in passenger numbers than Stansted in September. The collapse of charter airline XL Airways in mid-September will have contributed to this result.

Chart: Scotland & N Ireland Airports - Growth: January 2007 to September 2008
Source: UK CAA

In Scotland and Northern Ireland only Belfast City reported growth in September. After reporting growth in both July and August, traffic fell at both Belfast International and Glasgow Prestwick in September.

Chart: Midlands & North UK Airports Growth: January 2007 to September 2008
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. Doncaster/Sheffield and Newcastle both saw traffic fall over 10% during the third quarter.

Chart: South & South-West UK Airports - Growth: January 2007 to September 2008
Source: UK CAA

In the south and south-west only Bristol reported growth during the third quarter. All other airports saw passenger numbers fall by between 3% and 7%.

Image: Belfast International Airport - passengers going to Milan for their half term school break
Scary figures: Deborah Matchett, a PR executive at Belfast International Airport, with a clearly terrified Georgia and Patrick Stocker heading to Milan for their half term school break last weekend. The airport saw some 120,000 passengers through the airport over the Halloween holiday period.

Central Europe still growing; parts of North Africa struggling

International traffic may have been down almost 2% in the third quarter of 2008 but some country markets still generated healthy year-on-year growth. Topping the list of fastest-growing markets (of a reasonable size) were Romania (+48.0%), Slovakia (+45.0%), Bahrain (+29.3%), Gibraltar (+27.3%) and Mexico (+21.2%). Other sizable country markets reporting double-digit growth were Egypt (+20.3%), Hungary (+17.9%), Israel (+16.2%), Poland (+14.2%), Pakistan (+13.5%) and Singapore (+12.3%).

Major markets showing the biggest drop in traffic were Morocco (-32.0%), Tunisia (-22.0%), Australia (-19.4%), Belgium (-17.2%) and China (-15.8%). The Chinese result coincided with the Olympic Games during which time air travel was restricted by local authorities. The big French, Irish and US markets were virtually unchanged while the large German, Italian and Spanish markets were all down between 2% and 5%.

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