Heathrow Airport bucks UK airports trend

By Administrator |

BAA claims that British business 'is on the move again' after Heathrow Airport recorded its busiest ever August, with an additional 158,804 passengers using the facility – a 2.5% increase to 6,542,496, compared with 6,383,692

during August 2009.

Heathrow Airport is already looking at yet another retail sales record this year, despite the disruptions to traffic by the ash clouds last April and the British Airways' cabin crew strike action.

BAA says that business travellers – who account for 35% of Heathrow's customers – have played 'an important part' in the airport's resilience this year. The airports' company said: ‘European destinations proved to be the biggest winners by region, as numbers grew by 232,858, rising by 10.4% against 2,248,940 travellers last year, fuelling hopes that Britain's 'staycation' has come to an end.

‘The most popular routes from Heathrow were New York JFK (244,000 passengers), Dubai (165,000) and Dublin (139,000).’

As already reported (www.trend-news.com/default.asp?newsid=8723′) BAA's UK airports handled 10,647,422 passengers during August, a slight dip of -0.6% from 10,706,402 people last year.

BAA adds that a spate of travel company failures over the last couple of months has hindered recovery in some areas of the leisure market, with Heathrow's hub status setting it apart from its sister airports.

However, a positive air underlined a 13.7% rise in cargo being transported from all of BAA's UK airports (145,669 tonnes in August 2010, compared to 134,431 tonnes in August 2009).

The company added: ‘This will bring more relief to business leaders as it is a strong reflection of the wider international economy.’

A very confident looking BAA Commercial Director John Holland Kaye can be seen commenting on the results to the BBC at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCFo73w78i0′ and also to Sky News at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q3KrtgHGDk’

Holland Kaye told the news agencies that Heathrow has not seen so much of the recession over the last year, but acknowledged that BAA's other airports have suffered from the downturn in leisure travellers, alongside the failure of some travel companies and the decision of some low-cost carriers to take their business abroad where they feel they can make more money.

He said the latest cargo figures are the highest that Heathrow has ever reported and he refuted the notion that Heathrow is a 'monopoly', pointing out that it competes directly with Paris CDG and Frankfurt for hub passengers and as such should be regarded as a national asset. He also pointed out that no less than ?1bn ($1.5bn) a year is being spent on infrastructure improvements at Heathrow.

Meanwhile, asked separately about the future of Stansted within BAA, Holland Kaye said he wasn't in a position to talk about this since BAA is still waiting to hear on its appeal against any forced sale – as was the scenario with Gatwick – where a judgment is expected to be announced this October.

COMMENT: It is good to see BAA taking the initiative and pushing itself and its executives forward in this manner. The BAA-bashing days from the UK media in particular seem to be well behind it now and this new positive front-foot approach is good for the airports' company, good for the country and good for the travel retail business.

While Heathrow is certainly not perfect and there is much being done to upgrade the other terminals to 'T5 standard', there are some good positive stories to be told and the high standard of the airport's retailing and retailers and the customer reaction to this offer is just one of them. Thankfully this seems to be filtering through into the UK national media now.

Perhaps the fact that overseas visitors using Heathrow spend around ?6bn ($9.2bn) each year in the UK is also another good news story for another day?

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