Heathrow says it had its busiest ever January with 5.45 million passengers travelling through the airport’s terminals. But the figures mask a decline in the number of flight movements and planes are still flying on average one third empty.
Heathrow has reported an increase of 1.3% in passenger numbers for January 2015 compared to January 2014 but the results present a mixed picture for the airport.
While the central premise of the airport’s drive for expansion has been its claim that it is 98% full, aircraft movements actually fell by 0.8% last month compared to January 2014. And six of the last twelve months have seen fewer flights than the same month the year before. Heathrow began publishing monthly figures in October 2012. [No. Heathrow started to publish figures at least from 2005. See details below].
August was, unsurprisingly, the busiest month ever with 7.05 million passengers passing through terminals, a fraction more than the year before. The impact of the airport’s huge new Terminal 2 which opened in June appears to have been negligible.
There was also information in the figures published last week that continues to contradict claims that the UK is held back by the lack of flights to emerging markets – the so-called BRIC countries.
While the number of passengers travelling to African and Asia/Pacific countries fell there was a 14% increase in passengers to Latin America. Mexico saw an increase of 17.9% and Brazil 4.7%. The Middle East & Central Asia also saw growth of 4.9% and passenger volumes to China grew 2.0%.
But well over a third of Heathrow traffic remained destined for short haul flights to Europe while a quarter of passengers took flights to North America – which saw a 3% jump in numbers.
Heathrow said that “larger, fuller, quieter aircraft at Heathrow continued to be a driver for passenger growth”. Seats per aircraft increased 2% to 209 in January, while passengers per aircraft rose 2.2% to 147.7. However, that remains down from 171 as recently as August and the average load factor remains stubbornly low at just 70.7% according to the airport.
One thing is for certain of course: whatever the figures say Heathrow will present them with its usual spin: a fall in numbers will reveal lost ground to other hubs while an increase will reinforce the case for new hub capacity.
In 2012, the average load factor achieved by airlines at Heathrow was around 75 per cent, up from the 67 per cent seen in 1990, as shown in Figure C.6 below
There is a lot of Heathrow data here:
- Monthly traffic statistics up to January 2015, excluding Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh, Naples, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton (these include passengers, ATMs, passengers by market and cargo, on different tabs)
- Monthly traffic statistics up to December 2013, excluding Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh and Naples
- Monthly traffic statistics up to December 2012, excluding Gatwick and Naples
- Monthly traffic statistics up to December 2010, excluding Gatwick
- Monthly traffic statistics up to November 2009, including Gatwick
- Annual traffic for 10 years to 2012
Recent load factors for Heathrow:
All of 2013
Seats per aircraft increased 2.8% on 2012 and the average load factor was 76.4%, up 1 percentage point. Passengers per aircraft rose 3.7% to 154.8. – BRIC passengers were up 6.9% over the year, with China up 18.9%, and India up 8.7%.
Heathrow said its load factor – a measure of how full flights were – rose 2.4% points to 69.6%.
(June, July, August, September 2014 – no load factor given in the Heathrow traffic and business commentary).
Passenger growth continued to be driven by larger, fuller, quieter aircraft at Heathrow. Seats per aircraft increased 0.7% to 204.9, while load factors increased 0.1 percentage points to 76.1%. Passengers per aircraft rose 0.9% to 156.0
Passenger growth continued to be driven by larger, fuller, quieter aircraft at Heathrow. Seats per aircraft increased 1.0% to 204.3, while load factors increased 1.1 percentage points to 71.3%. Passengers per aircraft rose 2.6% to 145.7
Larger, quieter aircraft continued to contribute to passenger growth at Heathrow. Seats per aircraft increased 0.6% to 208.4, while load factors remained strong at 76.6%. Passengers per aircraft rose 0.4% to 159.6 – http://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Corporate-operational-24/4359
while load factors increased 0.2 percentage points to 70.7%. Passengers per aircraft rose 2.2% to 147.7. Within emerging markets, passenger volumes were particularly strong to Latin America – with Mexico increasing 17.9% and Brazil 4.7%. The Middle East & Central Asia also saw growth of 4.9% and passenger volumes to China grew 2.0%