Heathrow experienced a surge in passenger numbers as nearly 7 million passengers travelled through the airport in September – up 2.0% on last year, leading to a record 77.43 million total passengers in the last year.
Latin American destinations increased in popularity, with a 9.3% growth in traffic compared to last year, following British Airways launch of a new route to Santiago, Chile at the beginning of the year. South Asian locations also grew strongly as Air India saw passenger numbers aboard their aircraft go up by 21%. Regional airline FlyBe added 20,000 extra passengers to its services within the UK in the month.
For the 14th consecutive month, cargo continued its record performance as trade through the UK’s largest port by value grew by 11.5% in September compared to last year, and over 140,000 metric tonnes of goods passed through Heathrow.
The top countries for growth in overall cargo volumes were the USA (+3,219t), India (+1,204t), UAE (+1,005t), China (+814t) and Russia (+794t) with British Airways and American Airlines seeing the largest growth in cargo compared to last year.
Noise dropped to new lows even as passenger numbers and cargo volumes increased. The Heathrow Fly Quiet and Clean league table revealed that the end of the summer saw the lowest number of old, noisy “Chapter 3” aircraft in the airport’s history. The fastest growing aircraft are now the ultra-quiet Boeing Dreamliners.
Earlier this month, Heathrow unveiled a 9-point plan to encourage regional connections to the UK’s hub airport and prepare the economy outside of London for Brexit. As part of that, Heathrow urged the government to scrap domestic Air Passenger Duty on all UK flights after research revealed that UK passengers are paying an extra £225 million in aviation tax on domestic flights compared to many of their European counterparts.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling confirmed that the next milestone of Heathrow’s expansion is on track and said the government is set to give the project the formal go-ahead in the first half of 2018. Aviation Minister Lord Callanan and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Andy McDonald praised Heathrow expansion as a “jobs booster” while attending Heathrow’s inaugural Business Summit North East.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “September has been another remarkable month for Heathrow, with passenger and cargo volumes hitting new highs.
“We are pleased that the Civil Aviation Authority has recognised the progress we and our airline partners have made on delivering Heathrow expansion affordably, so that airport charges can be kept close to current levels.
“Together, we will deliver expansion in a way that meets the needs of passengers, local communities and investors and get the British economy moving in the early years of Brexit.”