Heathrow airport passengers up 1% in February (cf. last February) due to larger planes

In February, Heathrow had 1% more passengers than it had in February 2012. For all the airports that Heathrow Ltd owns, the increase in passengers for February was only 0.6% above their level in Feb 2012.  Heathrow Ltd said the rise in passengers at Heathrow was due to the use of larger planes, after British Airways’ take over of BMI, and higher load factors. The average number of seats per aircraft rose to 198.4 seats, and the load factor rose by 2.4% to 69.6%.  That still means most flights are still almost a third empty. For the 1% increase in passengers, there was a – 4.2% reduction in air transport movements at Heathrow, and a fall of -5% for all its UK airports, which now no longer include Stansted or Edinburgh. The amount of traffic to and from  Europe was 4.4% higher, but Heathrow says the amount of traffic with China was up 29.8% in February.  The number of Heathrow passengers in February was only 0.42% more than in its earlier highest February, in  2008.


The full Heathrow Airports Ltd traffic figures are at

 February 2013 traffic figures table.pdf (22 KB)

Heathrow Ltd says BA’s acquisition of bmi contributed to the increase in passengers, which was driven by a 1.8% rise in the average number of seats per aircraft to 198.4 seats, and a 2.4% increase in load factor (how full the average flight is) to 69.6%.


Heathrow air traffic hits record high in February

Heathrow airport posted record passenger numbers in February, as traffic to Europe, the hub’s largest market, rose 4.4%

By Denise Roland, and agencies (Telegraph)

11 Mar 2013

Britain’s biggest airport served 4.85m passengers in February, up 1% year-on-year and its  highest ever for the month.  [It is actually only +0.42% higher than its level in February 2008, which was 4,828,048 passengers in Feb 2008.  See Heathrow’s data

It said the rise, which continues an upward trend at the major hub, which posted record passenger numbers in 2012, was largely driven by a boost in the number of seats per aircraft following British Airways’ parent IAG’s takeover of BMI last year.

European traffic at Heathrow rose 4.4%, led by connections to Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Passengers to China were up 29.8%, the group said on Monday, but traffic to North America fell 1.9%, Latin America was down 4.6% and Africa declined 11.7%.

Heathrow, controlled by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, said its load factor – a measure of how full flights were – rose 2.4% points to 69.6%.

The company wants to increase capacity at Europe’s busiest hub by building a third runway, despite the coalition government overturning a decision to expand Heathrow after it came to power in 2010.

A controversial proposal to double the length of Heathrow’s two existing runways to allow take-offs and landings at the same time, reported in the Financial Times on Monday, is one of various ideas being mulled by a government commission set up to preserve Britain’s status as an international aviation hub.

Colin Matthews, chief executive, said: “This month’s figures reflect larger, fuller aircraft being used at Heathrow, not the addition of new routes to emerging economies which are so vital to UK trade, jobs and economic growth.”

Mr Matthews has previously warned that competition between Europe’s five major hub airports is set to intensify as rivals in Turkey and Dubai build up their aviation capacity.

Cargo was down 4.3% on last February, the group said, in line with EU-wide trends.



Europeans threaten Heathrow hub  17 Feb 2013




British Airways takeover of BMI sends Heathrow passengers flying to record 4.85 million in February

Flying high: fuller and larger planes keep the airport busy

by  Lucy Tobin

11 March 2013 (Evening Standard)

British Airways’ takeover of rival airline BMI led to fuller and larger planes taking off and landing at Heathrow last month, taking the airport’s passengers numbers up to a record 4.85 million.

That was 1% more than in February 2012, and adjusting for the fact that last year was a leap year, traffic rose 4.6% last month. European traffic was up 4.4%, particularly Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Passengers travelling to and from China rose 30%, and demand for Middle Eastern routes rose 6.2%. But the number of people flying to North America and Latin America fell and cargo was down 4.3% on last February, in line with global trends.

Heathrow is full to capacity so cannot receive more flights taking off or landing on its runways. It can only fill its arrivals and departure lounges more by hosting larger jets.

The airport’s chief executive Colin Matthews, who is campaigning for a third runway, warned: “This month’s figures reflect larger, fuller aircraft being used at Heathrow, not the addition of new routes to emerging economies which are so vital to UK trade, jobs and economic growth.”

At rival Gatwick, the number of fliers slipped 0.7% in the month to 2.1 million. It blamed that on a fall in European scheduled and chartered flights “as the challenging economic conditions continue in Europe”.

The airport has, however, won a string of new routes including Iraqi Airways resuming flights to Baghdad.





From Heathrow’s website:
Monthly traffic statistics up to January 2013, excluding Gatwick, Edinburgh and Naples


Passengers by Market – Heathrow
Total passengers excluding transits