Heathrow welcomed a record 6.1 million passengers in March, up 2.5% on March 2015, but this was not enough to stop it sliding down the list of the World’s busiest airports.
Larger, quieter, fuller aircraft continued to be a driver for growth in passenger volumes, with load factors increasing. Fast-growing emerging markets continued to contribute increased passenger volumes, including to China which was up 12%, Mexico 6%, India 4% and the Middle East which was up 9% as carriers continued to benefit from new aircraft including A380s.
Emirates added a sixth daily Dubai service in March following a slot transfer and from July will operate the service with its world-class A380.
East Asia continues to perform strongly, with both passenger and cargo volumes up 6% in part following the launch of Vietnam Airlines’ services and increase in frequency to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City after switching from Gatwick last year and British Airways’ new flights to Kuala Lumpur.
After six years of seeking slots at the UK’s only hub, Garuda Indonesia began the UK’s first direct services to Jakarta in March. The new services offer improved and more convenient access for British SMEs to Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
Heathrow say they continue to drive improvements to make the airport the most sustainable hub in the world – launching a new WebPortal aimed at consolidating freight loads, and decreasing the amount of trucks and emissions on roads around the airport. As the UK’s largest port, Heathrow is aiming to encourage freight companies to operate more sustainably
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “It’s been a record March for Heathrow and I’m delighted that we’ve added the UK’s first direct connection to Indonesia. As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Garuda Indonesia’s new route will be a significant boon for British SMEs looking for new export opportunities.
“But it isn’t just Indonesia waiting to access the UK’s only hub – there is a queue of over 30 airlines waiting for slots from Heathrow. With expansion, we can supercharge British trade by opening up 40 new long haul trading links with the fastest growing markets in the world. Let’s make it happen.”
However, this wasn’t enough to stop Heathrow sliding down the list of the World’s busiest airports. It dropped three places to sixth position in the Airports Council International list.
Heathrow was overtaken by Dubai International Airport which moved from sixth place to third.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson held onto the number one spot in the list with 101.4m passengers, with Beijing in second place with 89.9m. Dubai recorded 78m, while Heathrow registered 75m.
Many feel Heathrow’s status as a World leading airport is crucial to the economic success of the UK, and that further erosion of its status will harm our economy significantly.