UK – Florida market unchanged for a decade; charter traffic down 40% this year

Image: Flight Display

UK CAA statistics reveal that between 1987 and 1998 air travel demand between the UK and Florida trebled from just under one million passengers to just over three million. While traffic between the UK and Miami remained relatively unchanged the growth in long-haul leisure traffic to Orlando and Sanford (from 1996) boomed as UK families were increasingly able to afford holidays that enabled them to experience the delights of Walt Disney World and other attractions which appealed to both young and old kids alike.

However, since 1997 traffic has remained virtually unchanged hovering around the 2.8 million mark. Although traffic rebounded after the post ‘9/11′ dip demand has remained flat for the last five years.

Chart: UK - Florida traffic 1987-2008 - Annual passengers (millions)
Source: UK CAA

Scheduled traffic up, charter demand down this summer

Analysis of traffic data for this summer’s peak month of September reveals that scheduled demand from the UK to Florida is slightly up, while charter traffic which is concentrated at Orlando Sanford airport is down an alarming 35% with Manchester and London Gatwick traffic down around 40% and non-stop flights from Belfast International and Cardiff Wales no longer operating.

Route September 2008 September 2009 Change
Heathrow – Miami 59,392 62,810 +5.8%
UK – Orlando 87,512 83,736 -4.3%
UK – Sanford 83,063 53,744 -35.3%
Gatwick – Tampa 8,659 10,222 +18.1%
Total 238,626 210,512 -11.8%
Source: UK CAA

According to Orlando Sanford’s own traffic statistics for year-to-date international traffic, the vast majority of which is to the UK, demand is down 44% at 373,735 passengers, not helped by the UK Pound – US Dollar exchange rate which makes the US a more expensive destination than it was a year ago. In spring 2008 £1 would buy $2.00 but a year later this had fallen to less than $1.50 (Source:, resulting in US-based purchases (such as hotel rooms, food, entertainment, car rentals) now being over 30% more expensive.


  1. Zoe says:

    The biggest impact on the decrease in traffic from the UK to SFB is attributable to the demise of XL Airways (operating as Travel City Direct) which went bust in September 2008. From the CAA stats to Aug over 50% of the passenger decline can be attributed to XL rising to over 60% for MAN. replies: Thanks Zoe for reminding us about the demise of XL and their involvement in SFB services. Curiously,’s publishers are now based in the former Travel City Direct offices close to London Gatwick airport.

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