– UK airports handled 17 million (7.3 per cent) fewer passengers in 2009 than
in 2008, the largest annual decline for sixty-five years.
– It is the first time numbers have fallen consecutively for two years, reducing
passenger numbers to levels not seen since 2004.
– Traffic declined the most in the first quarter of 2009, with the rate of decline
easing as the year progressed.
UK airports handled 218 million passengers during the 2009 calendar year according
to figures published today by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a fall of 7.3
percent (17 million) on 2008, the biggest decline in passenger numbers at UK airports
since records began.
Commenting on the numbers, Harry Bush, CAA Director of Economic Regulation, said:
"Today’s figures show the biggest fall in passenger numbers since the second world
war, highlighting the enormous impact the recession has had on the aviation industry.
Passenger numbers are now back to the level they were six years ago and, although
they will certainly rebound, the pace of recovery is uncertain and it could be
a number of years before they reach their peak level again."
The decrease in passenger numbers was more marked in the first quarter of the
year, with a drop of 12.5 per cent over the same period in 2008. Later in the
year, the rate of decline eased with passenger numbers in the last quarter of
2009 down only 3.8 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2008.
Furthermore, some segments of demand were already showing growth in the latter
part of 2009. Passengers travelling to and from international destinations other
than geographical Europe and North America grew by 4% in the second half of 2009
compared to the same period in 2008. Other data, also published today by the CAA,
suggests that the weakening of the pound has reduced demand for Eurozone holidays
from UK residents, an effect only partially offset by an increase in holiday travel
to the UK by Eurozone residents.
Regional airports were proportionately more affected than London airports:
· At the London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City
– the fall was 4.9% overall, with the largest declines in percentage terms at
London City (14.2 per cent), Stansted (10.7 per cent) and Luton (10.4 per cent).
Conversely, Heathrow had the smallest decline amongst London airports, serving
66 million passengers in 2009, 1.5 per cent (one million) fewer than in 2008.
Gatwick handled 32 million passengers, 5.3 per cent (1.8 million) fewer than in
· At the regional airports – those other than the London airports – traffic contracted
by 10.7 per cent to 88 million passengers. Manchester airport, the largest regional
airport, saw passenger numbers fall by 11.5 per cent (2.4 million), whereas at
Birmingham airport they fell by five per cent (483 thousand).
In 2009, 21 million passengers took UK domestic flights, representing a fall
of eight per cent (1.9 million) on 2008. This notable reduction in domestic passengers
continues a trend apparent for a number of years.
Another theme is the decline in passenger numbers on charter airlines, a drop
of 17 per cent (five million) to 24 million in 2009 compared with 2008. The reduction
for scheduled airlines was less, with six percent (12 million) fewer passengers
in 2009 than in 2008.
During 2009, air transport movements (landings and take-offs of commercial aircraft)
at UK airports fell by 8.8 per cent to 2.1 million, which is also the largest
annual fall since the 1940s. This fall, combined with 2008’s 2.2 per cent decline,
brought air transport movements to levels not seen since 2003.
For more information contact the CAA press office on: 020 7453 6030.
Notes to Editors
Routes and destinations
In 2009, the majority of UK airport passengers (126 million) were bound for,
or arriving from, geographical Europe – representing a fall of eight per cent
from 2008. Within this, the largest absolute increase was in passengers travelling
to and from Turkey (up by 544 thousand, an increase of 12 per cent). The largest
fall in passengers travelling to and from an individual European country was Spain
(including the Canary Islands), where numbers fell by 12 per cent (4.1 million).
There was a ten per cent decrease (2.2 million) in passengers on flights to and
from North America, to 19.5 million in 2009. Passengers travelling to and from
the remaining international destinations (outside Europe and North America) totalled
30.2 million in 2009, a slight increase of 0.7 per cent on 2008.
Passenger Numbers by Nationality of Carrier
56 per cent (108 million) of scheduled passengers at UK airports travelled on
UK airlines. Of the remaining scheduled passengers, 29 per cent (56.3 million)
travelled on EU airlines, and 28.8 million on non-EU airlines. Between 2008 and
2009, scheduled passengers carried by UK airlines to and from the UK fell by seven
per cent (eight million), whereas EU airlines carried five per cent (three million)
fewer scheduled passengers. Non-EU airlines’ scheduled passengers declined three
per cent (800 thousand).
Freight and Mail
The total tonnage of freight and mail carried from UK airports in 2009 was 2.3
million tonnes, a decrease of ten per cent on 2008. However, in the fourth quarter
of 2009 total freight and mail tonnage grew by five per cent compared to the same
period in 2008.
The CAA also produces Aviation Trends (www.caa.co.uk/aviationtrends), which provides a quarterly update of key figures summarising the level of
activity at the UK’s airports. Each edition also includes a section entitled ‘Did
you know?’ which aims to present interesting facts derived from the various data
sources available to the CAA. In the issue published today, the change in demand
for holiday travel between London and the Eurozone is examined and compared against
the change in the Sterling-Euro exchange rate over the last seven years.
The five largest airports in the UK are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester
All the statistics above refer to UK airports and do not include the Channel
Islands and Isle of Man, although these airports are still considered to be domestic
destinations. Data on these airports is available, alongside further data on UK
airports, from the weblinks below.
Aviation Trends 2009, Q4 can be found on the CAA website here: www.caa.co.uk/www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/Aviation_Trends_Q4_2009.pdf
Data for 2008 is available on the Economic Regulation Group’s statistics pages
of the CAA’s website: www.caa.co.uk/airportstatistics
The CAA produces a comprehensive range of aviation data, all of which may be
viewed free of charge on the CAA website at www.caa.co.uk/statistics
CAA Aviation Data Unit, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE, telephone
020 7453 6245.
The CAA is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making
sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety
standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money
because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace;
and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice
on aviation policy from an economic standpoint