BAAs UK airports handled a total of 12 million passengers in March, an increase of 1.2% on the same month.
While it is believed that the earlier Easter holiday did not affect this result the month did see a number of flight cancellations, mainly at Heathrow. (Although the Easter Bank Holidays occurred in March as opposed to April in 2007, it is expected that the bulk of the travel associated with Easter will coincide with the school holidays which, in most of the country, fall in April.
As a result it is thought that the March figures have not been materially inflated by the earlier Easter). Roughly half of the 600 cancellations at Heathrow, out of a scheduled total of 40,000, were a result of severe crosswinds on the 10th and the 12th of March. The remainder were associated with issues around the opening of Terminal 5 late in the month. Across the Group as a whole most of the key markets experienced growth in March.
European scheduled traffic was up by 3% and the much smaller European charter market increased by 9%. North Atlantic services carried 0.8% more passengers while other long haul routes recorded a collective increase of 1.9%. Domestic traffic, which has been shrinking in recent months, was again worst affected by flight cancellations and saw a 6% drop in comparison with March last year.
There were mixed results among individual airports. Heathrow lost in the region of 50,000 passengers, just under 1% of its expected total, as a result of cancellations and ended the month with a decrease of 0.6% against last year. Gatwick rose 8.1% helped by strong growth in European route traffic, both scheduled and charter, but Stansted recorded a drop of 0.3%. Southamptons traffic was up by 5.4% but in Scotland there were decreases of 4.6% and 5.8% at Glasgow and Aberdeen respectively while Edinburgh was up by 1%. In total the number of air transport movements at BAAs UK airports was down by 2.7% in March, partly as a result of the previously mentioned cancellations which were concentrated on Domestic and short haul international routes.
Cargo tonnage in total was up by 1.3, helped by continued strong growth at Heathrow (+6.2%).