London Heathrow’s Passenger Numbers Increase Most in 2 ½ Years
London’s Heathrow airport had its biggest traffic boost in 2 1/2 years last month as the economic recovery buoyed demand for travel and snow-free runways allowed more flights to operate than a year earlier. Passenger numbers at Europe’s busiest hub rose 5.3 percent to 4.6 million in February, the largest jump since August 2007, BAA Ltd. said in a statement today. Adjusting for weather disruption the gain was 2.7 percent, the most since Feb. 2008. “Heathrow remains resilient and other airports are beginning to see encouraging signs,” BAA Chief Executive Officer Colin Matthews said in the statement. “However, traffic remains depressed, reflecting tough conditions in the economy generally and in aviation specifically.” Passenger numbers rose 2.4 percent across BAA’s six airports, led by a 4 percent gain in long-haul travel away from North Atlantic routes. Emerging markets showed the strongest rebound, with traffic surging 6.8 percent to China, 11 percent to the Middle East and almost 18 percent to South America. Traffic at London Gatwick, sold by BAA to buyout firm Global Infrastructure Partners in December under pressure from anti-trust regulators, rose 3.2 percent to 2.05 million in February, the airport said yesterday in a statement. Gains in domestic and European flights offset a slump in U.S. travel. At BAA, owned by Madrid-based builder Grupo Ferrovial SA, gains at Heathrow, Southampton and Edinburgh more than offset drops at London Stansted and Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland. Domestic traffic rose 1.1 percent, the first advance in two years, while European services recorded a 2.6 percent gain and North Atlantic routes were up 2.7 percent, even after heavy snow in the northeastern U.S. and the Mid West, BAA said.
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