Heathrow passenger traffic declines in 2008 - Heathrow Airport News

Airport news for Heathrow on 15/01/2009.

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The figures were released at a time when airports operator BAA is insisting it needs to expand capacity at Heathrow with the addition of a third runway in order to remain competitive with airports on the continent, such as Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid.

Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, handling 66.9 million passengers in 2008, which was a drop of 1.4 per cent from 2007. Global economic conditions affected the demand for air travel, which was seen also in December, as traffic fell by 2.3 per cent, BAA said. December is typically the busiest month, due to the Christmas holiday period.

Greenpeace activists and other environmentalists announced yesterday they had purchased land that would be required for the new Heathrow runway. The government is indicating that it supports the airport’s expansion and is expected to make an announcement to that effect later this week.

“The decline in traffic presents a good opportunity to slip the decision,” noted aviation analyst Nick Cunningham, who is affiliated with Evolution Securities. “If you have a recession, traffic isn’t going to be what you expect it to be, so it just buys the government more time, and governments love putting off decisions. But the expansion seems more or less inevitable. Heathrow is essential to the U.K.’s economic position.”

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