Southampton Airport Doing Well

A snow-free end to 2011 helped BAA record a 4.4% increase in passengers at its six UK airports last year.

The company handled 108.5 million passengers in 2011, with Heathrow numbers - badly hit by snow in 2010 - rising 5.5% to an annual record of just under 69.4 million last year.

Heathrow, where thousands of passengers had to camp overnight following heavy snowfalls in December 2010, had its busiest ever December last month, handling nearly 5.52 million travellers.

Edinburgh Airport also saw record passenger numbers last year, with rising 9.2% to more than 9.38 million.

Glasgow rose 5.1% to 6.86 million last year, while Aberdeen was up 11.8% to 3.10 million.

Southampton passenger numbers increased 1.6% to 1.76 million last year, but Stansted fell 2.8% to 18.04 million.

Although the total number of passengers at the six airports rose 4.4%, BAA said that after adjusting for exceptional events in 2010 such as British Airways strikes, the Icelandic volcanic ash and snow disruption, the underlying increase was 0.9%.

The company said there was a a record 476,197 flights at Heathrow, 99.2% of the west London airport's annual limit of 480,000.

BAA said this meant the capacity constraints at Heathrow, where the Government has ruled out an extra, third runway, were tighter than ever, restricting growth in the UK economy.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: 

"As the UK's only international hub airport, Heathrow is central to developing our trade links with fast-growing emerging markets. Capacity constraints are damaging the UK economy today when the country can least afford it.

"A new hub airport has been proposed in south-east England, but this has a projected cost of £50 billion and may take decades to build. During this time we would be handing over on a plate the UK's historic trade advantages to our European competitors."