The UK border agency strike hit passenger numbers using BAA airports last month, figures out this morning show.
The airports operator said an estimated 50,000 fewer passengers used Heathrow after airlines reduced load factors in preparation for the industrial action on November 30.
BAA airports handled a total of 7.8 million passengers in November, down by 0.9% over the same month last year. The comparison with last year is complicated by weather-related disruptions in both years and the strike action, the company said.
Adjusting for these factors, traffic is estimated to have declined 1.6% across the group. Heathrow handled 5.2 million passengers in November, a drop of 0.5% on the same month last year.
North Atlantic routes from the London hub showed 3.8% growth due to an increased number of flights but domestic numbers were down by 12.3% as services declined.
“This sustained domestic decline reflects the UK regions being progressively cut off from the UK’s only hub airport by a lack of capacity at Heathrow,” BAA said.
Stansted also suffered from a 7.5% drop in passengers driven by a reduction in the number of seats offered by airlines on domestic and European scheduled routes.
BAA’s Scottish airports’ passenger figures were boosted by better weather this November compared with 2010. Growth in European scheduled traffic of 10.8% more than offset the decline in traffic to Heathrow.
Traffic to the European hubs of Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris continued to see particular growth, with passengers increasingly having to connect through an overseas country to make their journey, the company said.
Edinburgh reported a 3.2% increase in passengers overall, with gains of 5.4% in European scheduled traffic and 9.1% on North Atlantic services.
Aberdeen’s recent strong performance continued with an increase in passenger numbers of 16.1%. A new runway extension is enabling new routes and a new service to Frankfurt is helping to drive growth of 21.6% in European scheduled traffic.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews, said: “Faced with the prospect of long immigration queues at Heathrow on November 30, we were pleased that airlines, UKBA [UK Border Agency], and the UK’s hub airport worked effectively in collaboration to avoid disruption to passengers.”
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