British Airways uncertainty and Flyglobespan collapse likely to impact December traffic at London and Scottish airports

Image: Striking uniforms
Striking uniforms. Heathrow’s growth in October and November should hopefully continue in December now that the suicidal BA strike is off.

While the UK economy struggles to recover as quickly as many of its continental European rivals, the country’s airports have, not surprisingly, been struggling to match passenger levels seen in 2008. However, a handful of airports are performing better than last year for a variety of reasons.

Chart: London Airports - Pax change vly: January 2007 to November 2009
Source: UK CAA

London Heathrow has now been joined by Gatwick in reporting growth in both October and November; a trend that will hopefully continue in December now the British Airways cabin crew strike over the Christmas period has been ruled illegal (temporarily). The other three main London airports have all seen their performance improve in recent months with passenger numbers down less than 10% in November. However, Stansted has now gone over two years since last reporting monthly year-on-year growth.

Chart: Scotland & N Ireland Airports - Pax change vly: January 2007 to November 2009
Source: UK CAA

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Belfast City and Edinburgh continue to report positive traffic trends. Ryanair’s decision to expand its Edinburgh operation appears to have had a detrimental impact on its Glasgow Prestwick base where demand is down between 25% and 30%. Flyglobespan’s collapse this week will be bad news for both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, the airline’s two major bases.

Chart: Midlands & North UK Airports - Pax change vly: January 2007 to November 2009
Source: UK CAA

Airports in the Midlands have had a difficult year with the only growth occurring in April (in Birmingham), October (East Midlands) and November (Liverpool). The start of the winter season saw Doncaster/Sheffield traffic drop by over 25% but the airport will be delighted with easyJet’s decision to start several new services from the airport next May. On the other hand, East Midlands will take a hit when easyJet flights there end on 5 January.

Chart: South & South-West UK Airports - Pax change vly: January 2007 to November 2009
Source: UK CAA

The south and south-west region appears to have been hardest hit with none of the five airports monitored reporting any growth in any month. Bristol and Southampton have managed to keep traffic losses to less than 5% in recent months but it has been a disappointing year for Bournemouth and Cardiff airports.

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  1. Arthur Dent says:

    Forget BA and Flyglobespan, the biggest impact on December traffic in the UK now looks likely to be our usual inability to cope with a light sprinkling of snow …

  2. Charlie says:

    Forget FlyGlobespan or the weather; BAA’s deliberate rundown of Glasgow International is going to have far more impact on passenger numbers. replies: We’re not sure what evidence (if any) you have regarding BAA’s managing of Glasgow but so far this year according to UK CAA traffic data Glasgow International’s traffic is down 11.4%. That may sound bad but actually a whole range of other UK airports have been hit just as hard, if not harder by the economic slowdown; Mannchester (-11.4%), London Stansted (-11.4%), Leeds/Bradford (-11.5%), Belfast International (-12.8%), London City (-13.1%), Inverness (-13.4%), Bournemouth (-16.3%), East Midlands (-17.1%), Cardiff (-17.3%), Humberside (-19.7%) and Glasgow Prestwick (-23.2%).

  3. Charlie says:

    Yes, other airports traffic is down now, however look back at when all airports were booming in the UK, Glasgow was still stagnated. Glasgow never had the boom before the bust that all other airports had.

    As for proof, there is allot, including quotes from airline CEO’s. When easyJet launched flights from Glasgow International Airport to Berlin they said “if the route proves successful, we will add more routes from Glasgow to Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Paris and other city destinations.” easyJet’s Glasgow to Berlin route has been a huge success, flying up to 9000 passengers per month, constantly out performing there other UK-Berlin routes (excluding London).

    So where are Glasgow’s easyJet flights to Madrid, Milan and other European cities? I can see them at Glasgow but they do appear to be operating from Edinburgh, a far smaller market that Glasgow.

    Ryanair held talks with BAA about opening a second base in Scotland, at this time Prestwick was their only base. BAA jumped to get Ryanair in at Edinburgh however BAA would not offer Ryanair the same deal to fly from Glasgow.

    Delta Airlines were rumoured to be adding a Glasgow to Atlanta route for many years. Then out of nowhere Delta announced a route from Atlanta to Edinburgh, helped by “BAA incentives”. No surprise to anyone, this route was a major failure.

    A number of airlines have told the Competition Commission that when they have approached BAA to operate a new flight from one of their airports BAA have responded with “We will not give you this deal at airport A, however you can fly from airport B for that amount.”

    BAA’s monopoly needs to come to an end ASAP!

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