London leads as the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin – by number of passengers through its 5 airports

Simon Calder, writing in the Independent, says that “far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.” Despite Heathrow being close the largest number of flights, London remains the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin (23%) – and is racing ahead of its closest rival, New York.  There were a record number of air passengers using the 5 London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City airport) in 2014, and that was about 61% of all UK air passengers (same % as in 2013).  Some 144.7 million passengers flew through London’s 5 commercial airports last year, which is the equivalent of 275 people – or one wide-bodied aircraft – arriving or departing every minute of every day of the year.  Heathrow’s number of passengers in 2014 rose 1.7% due to using larger aircraft, and the number of passengers using the 5 London airports rose 5% in 2014 compared to 2013. While London is by far the best connected city in the world, New York comes 2nd, Tokyo 3rd and Paris the only other European city in the top 10. The pre-eminence of London indicates that the UK economy is not losing out due to any lack of airport capacity. London comfortably leads world cities, for airport capacity.


London leads as the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin

23.1.2015 (The Independent)

By Simon Calder

Far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.

Despite the “capacity crunch” at the capital’s airport, figures compiled by The Independent reveal that London remains the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin – and is racing ahead of its closest rival, New York.

A record 144.7m passengers flew through London’s five commercial airports in 2014.

The figure translates to an average of 275 people – or one wide-bodied aircraft – arriving or departing every minute of every day of the year.  [Maths is correct].  The capital is 23% ahead of New York, which has three airports.

The Independent has analysed passenger figures for the 20 key aviation cities, aggregating the traffic for all airports serving each metropolis.

London’s catchment comprises Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City. Flight movements at Heathrow have reached their effective limit at 1,290 per day, and the airport’s passenger figures are now dwarfed by Atlanta and Beijing.

Yet Heathrow grew 1.7% thanks to larger aircraft.

Combined with rapid growth at the capital’s other airports, London put on almost seven million passengers during the year, a rise of 5%.

New York’s trio of JFK, Newark Liberty and La Guardia showed a slightly smaller rise, increasing Heathrow’s edge. Tokyo remains third, but a 3m rise at Haneda airport last year was offset by an equal decline at Narita.

For the first time, Dubai and its neighbours have joined the elite 100-million-plus club. Combining all three main UAE airports – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – took the total to 100.6m, a 10% annual rise. If rates of increase are sustained, the UAE will leapfrog Tokyo this year and overhaul New York in 2018.

Atlanta remains the world’s busiest single airport, despite a small decline in passengers. The only city in Continental Europe in the top 10 is Paris, with Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. London extended its lead over Paris to 56%.

Opponents of airport expansion seized upon The Independent’s figures as evidence that another London runway is unnecessary.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN – which opposes expansion at Heathrow – said: “These figures give the lie to the fact that London’s economy is losing out because of lack of airport capacity. Clearly London’s airports are able to handle the business people and tourists who are attracted to the capital in ever-increasing numbers.

“Any Government needs to think very hard before it gives the green light for future expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick.”

But proponents insist the capital needs another runway to stay ahead. Gavin Hayes, director of the pressure group Let Britain Fly, said: “If Britain is to both maintain and enhance its position as a leading global aviation hub we need politicians to make a quick decision on airports expansion. The fact is Heathrow has already been full for a decade and Gatwick will be full by 2020.”

The aviation analyst, John Strickland, said: “Heathrow offers the greatest range of direct long-haul destinations needed by the UK’s businesses, supported by the number of connections it allows between flights. Without the ability to grow into new markets, the UK risks falling behind its competitors in the race for jobs.”

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted was “the inevitable economic outcome” of London’s standing. “We need three additional runways, and we need to start now,” he told The Independent. “The first runway should be delivered at Stansted, because that’s where there’s more space.”

Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission is due to recommend a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick after the May election.



CAA passenger figures for 2014

Provisional statistics. From CAA statistics

AIRPORTTerminal passengers in 2014% change compared to 2013
HEATHROW                 73,371,1061.4
GATWICK                 38,094,8857.5
MANCHESTER                 21,950,4966.1
STANSTED                 19,935,16111.7
LUTON                 10,481,1558.1
EDINBURGH                 10,159,0493.9
BIRMINGHAM                    9,698,3376.4
GLASGOW                    7,708,8974.8
BRISTOL                    6,333,0643.4
NEWCASTLE                    4,513,0122.2
EAST MIDLANDS INTERNATIONAL                    4,506,4574.1
BELFAST INTERNATIONAL                    4,031,6880.2
LIVERPOOL (JOHN LENNON)                    3,984,024-4.8
ABERDEEN                    3,725,1138.3
LONDON CITY                    3,647,8247.9
LEEDS BRADFORD                    3,263,247-1.5
BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)                    2,555,1110.5
SOUTHAMPTON                    1,829,6076.2
JERSEY                    1,474,6203.2
SOUTHEND                    1,102,26013.6
CARDIFF WALES                    1,019,545-3.6
PRESTWICK                       912,400-20.3
GUERNSEY                       860,2130.4
EXETER                       766,5103.9
ISLE OF MAN                       728,591-1.3
DONCASTER SHEFFIELD                       724,2525
BOURNEMOUTH                       660,6360.2
INVERNESS                       611,7700.8
NORWICH                       458,931-0.9
CITY OF DERRY (EGLINTON)                       350,257-9
SCATSTA                       279,799-6.2
SUMBURGH                       262,62625.2
HUMBERSIDE                       237,3311.1
BLACKPOOL                       223,998-14.7
NEWQUAY                       219,16725.5
KIRKWALL                       150,8770.9
DURHAM TEES VALLEY                       142,274-10.7
STORNOWAY                       127,2196.1
ALDERNEY                          61,317-2.4
BENBECULA                          31,1901.9
WICK JOHN O GROATS                          27,625-16.5
ISLAY                          27,4216.6
DUNDEE                          22,069-19.9
CAMBRIDGE                          20,692123.7
GLOUCESTERSHIRE                          15,1417.2
BARRA                          10,52111.8
CAMPBELTOWN                            9,331-1
TIREE                            9,0269.1
LERWICK (TINGWALL)                            3,595-5
OXFORD (KIDLINGTON)                            1,205-82.4
LYDD                            1,19478.2
SHOREHAM                                452-38.3
COVENTRY                                   –0
TOTAL OF ABOVE AIRPORTS               241,342,2884.3
London airports
HEATHROW                 73,371,1061.4
GATWICK                 38,094,8857.5
STANSTED                 19,935,16111.7
LUTON                 10,481,1558.1
LONDON CITY                    3,647,8247.9
SOUTHEND                    1,102,26013.6
Total of the London airports               146,632,3915
London airports had 61% of total UK air passengers in 2014 and also in 2013