Heathrow passengers up 2.2% last year compared to 2014; ATMs up 0.3%; air cargo down 0.2%

Nearly 75 million passengers travelled through Heathrow in 2015, an increase of 2.2% on 2014 and the airport’s highest ever number of annual passengers.The number of flights (air transport movements) was up 0.3% on 2014. The number of seats per aircraft increased by 2.1% to 209, and passengers per aircraft rose to 1.9% to 160. But the average load factor remained constant at 76.5%. (For 2013, Heathrow said its average load factor was 76.4%, and average number of passengers per aircraft was 154.8).  At the end of 2015, over 20 daily A380 departures and arrivals were operated by eight airlines  “Heathrow continued to play a leading role in helping Britain’s exports reach global markets, with the UK’s largest port by value recording cargo volumes of 1.5 million metric tonnes for the year.”  That is Heathrow’s way of saying the cargo tonnage fell by 0.2% in 2015 compared with 2014. Heathrow says “emerging markets continued to be a driver of traffic growth at Heathrow”, with passenger volumes up 8% to Latin America and 6% to the Middle East. They also say passenger volumes during 2015 were up 14% to China. That’s confusing, as the increase in passengers to the “Asia/Pacific” area, which includes China, only rose by 0.3% for the year. Heathrow itself admits it has terminal capacity for 90 million passengers, so at 75 million, it is not “full”. The Airports Commission said that would not happen till 2030.



Heathrow’s press release with its 2015 figures is at 



`Full’ Heathrow Adds 1.6 Million Passengers Aided by Bigger Jets

By Kari Lundgren (Bloomberg Business)
January 11, 2016

– Europe’s biggest hub boosts tally 2.2% to almost 75 million
– Planes using crowded London airport now average 209 seats

London’s Heathrow Airport, which has operated close to the capacity of its two runways since the start of the decade, boosted passenger numbers to just short of 75 million last year as airlines deployed bigger jets to beat the cap on flights.

Europe’s busiest hub added 1.6 million passengers, a 2.2 percent gain, even as plane movements increased just 0.3 percent, it said in a statement Monday. By the year’s end, more than 20 Airbus Group SE A380 superjumbos were landing every day, helping to lift the average number of seats per flight to 209.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has delayed a decision on whether to allow the construction of a third runway at Heathrow until after London’s mayoral election later this year. The airport says it needs a new strip to lift passenger numbers above 135 million by 2050, while opponents say the 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) plan is too costly and will increase noise in a heavily urban area.

Flights to the Persian Gulf states — home to some of the world’s largest international carriers — as well as emerging markets were among the main drivers of growth in 2015, Heathrow said. Passenger volumes rose 14 percent on routes to China and 8 percent to Latin America. The airport handled 1.5 million metric tons of cargo.

Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said in the statement that Heathrow’s expansion plan will make Britain “the best connected country in the world.”




The Airports Commission said:

“The current terminals have capacity for 90 million passengers per annum, which will thus be constrained by 2030, although there are long-term investment plans in place to increase this to provide sufficient capacity to support up to 95 million passengers.”

page 24 of Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440315/business-case-and-sustainability-assessment.pdf   in July 2015


The opening of Terminal 5 in 2008 has relieved some pressure on terminal facilities, increasing the airport’s terminal capacity to 90 million passengers per year.

See earlier

Heathrow claims “larger, fuller, quieter” planes – but load factor still just 70 – 76%

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. There were about 37,130 air transport movements (commercial flights) using Heathrow in January, compared to 4 earlier years when there were over 39,000 flights. The reason why Heathrow can increase its number of passengers, with fewer flights is having more passengers per flight.  Heathrow’s own figures show a lower number of flights at the airport contrasts with its claims that lack of hub capacity is “a ticking time bomb”.  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. Details of Passengers by Market show growth in numbers of passengers to and from emerging economies. However, overall the load factor (the % of the seats in the plane are used) are far lower at Heathrow than many other UK airports, with 70.1% in January. Over recent months, the load factor was 71.3% in November, and about 76% in October and December 2014.  It was 76.4% for the full year 2013 and 75% in 2012.  Heathrow will say, if there is a fall in numbers, that this means it is losing ground to other hubs, and if they rise, it reinforces their case for new hub capacity.




Data from Heathrow statistics at


Month and year Total PassengersAir Transport Movements – Passenger and CargoCargo Volume (Metric Tonnes)
January 2005 – December 2015January 2005 – December  2015
January 20055,141,12339,13998,781
February 20054,753,59135,72399,555
March 20055,708,62739,634109,388
April 20055,573,02239,096108,058
May 20055,636,62140,432110,613
June 20056,000,20839,640109,861
July 20056,456,94341,049110,844
August 20056,120,13940,260103,194
September 20056,042,02039,928109,000
October 20055,713,07440,597124,648
November 20055,208,22238,468111,801
December 20055,332,86038,020110,233
January 20065,112,71839,431101,573
February 20064,734,68836,109100,281
March 20065,491,14339,924115,062
April 20065,811,93138,705102,026
May 20065,716,74140,617105,445
June 20066,122,23039,801107,263
July 20066,533,09140,996107,589
August 20065,987,75539,611101,564
September 20065,896,74339,781106,925
October 20065,630,49240,429111,120
November 20065,099,09438,556109,453
December 20065,206,23336,82696,112
All 20061,263,129
January 20075,013,16339,13695,644
February 20074,641,46636,06398,403
March 20075,646,97740,181112,257
April 20075,667,57339,219104,441
May 20075,610,62940,621111,613
June 20076,014,54239,959111,857
July 20076,419,43241,065111,874
August 20076,378,15641,525109,516
September 20076,022,15640,108114,624
October 20075,844,06440,890114,662
November 20075,221,94738,983116,456
December 20075,374,95337,963112,298
All of 20071,310,987
January 20084,957,88738,739105,475
February 20084,828,04837,310110,919
March 20085,612,26939,313119,265
April 20085,467,91039,312120,950
May 20085,645,16140,824123,862
June 20085,958,63540,195120,964
July 20086,417,66041,515123,996
August 20086,365,71740,858120,285
September 20085,802,70639,846117,521
October 20085,630,39940,409119,501
November 20084,971,82937,737117,621
December 20085,251,67437,081100,210
All of 20081,397,054
January 20094,853,19137,92892,580
February 20094,370,84634,35691,046
March 20095,193,57139,968102,963
April 20095,612,59638,72893,171
May 20095,424,78939,646100,045
June 20095,775,82839,230103,403
July 20096,477,47640,262109,254
August 20096,383,69239,621111,324
September 20095,783,61137,869110,244
October 20095,687,43838,452120,618
November 20095,028,73937,045123,439
December 20095,316,12936,921120,209
All of 20091,277,650
January 20104,830,09236,128106,299
February 20104,600,40635,061113,021
March 20105,211,87737,363133,399
April 20104,446,53031,098100,477
May 20105,255,77237,899136,165
June 20105,783,05137,989127,574
July 20106,705,88241,438130,094
August 20106,542,49641,016127,200
September 20106,221,21940,002123,680
October 20106,097,49040,741138,301
November 20105,243,16338,004127,961
December 20104,809,19532,481108,913
All 2010 65,745,250449,271 1,472,988
January 20115,052,72639,349116,176
February 20114,621,71736,243118,325
March 20115,331,45140,159130,909
April 20115,848,56039,399121,689
May 20115,865,55840,768128,083
June 20116,146,98639,963125,718
July 20116,872,51441,596128,103
August 20116,585,44241,168120,942
September 20116,310,90340,528119,097
October 20116,019,46540,955128,305
November 20115,218,86237,943122,769
December 20115,517,26438,126124,371
All 201169,390,628 476,3041,484,351
January 20125,169,51839,073112,324
February 20124,798,78536,834115,920
March 20125,697,13239,890130,860
April 20125,849,17138,948118,686
May 20125,831,84040,734123,172
June 20126,245,55339,685125,013
July 20126,569,64741,127126,512
August 20126,459,11941,046121,469
September 20126,345,93539,616121,135
October 20126,011,76139,638125,367
November 20125,381,13837,305124,057
December 20125,625,26937,445120,035
All 2012 69,983,174 471,3821,464,390
January 20135,184,92436,872106,425
February 20134,848,54835,281110,948
March 20135,921,06839,413127,862
April 20135,806,68138,677115,175
May 20136,105,23240,460117,849
June 20136,531,93340,013119,786
July 20136,930,33441,323118,962
August 20136,959,54441,413114,225
September 20136,559,11240,308115,547
October 20136,289,29140,884124,099
November 20135,411,35438,330133,376
December 20135,784,89836,578118,759
All 201372,332,160 469,5781,422,939
January 20145,383,87737,443112,093
February 20144,898,46735,256109,803
March 20145,753,32139,470132,989
April 20146,193,73838,684120,194
May 20146,236,71841,211125,982
June 20146,600,65240,320125,407
July 20146,965,35641,499128,206
August 20147,051,07341,223122,831
September 20146,577,69239,837124,570
October 20146,315,18740,684134,453
November 20145,473,03137,771136,419
December 20145,925,71337,297126,134
All 201473,371,106470,7101,498,906
Month and year Total PassengersAir Transport Movements – Passenger and CargoCargo Volume (Metric Tonnes)

Murad Qureshi on how Heathrow is expanding passenger numbers, but BAA don’t want Londoners to know it

In his blog, Murad Qureshi (Chair of the Environment Committee, of the London Assembly) writes that after a week of BAA propaganda last week in the pages of the Evening Standard you would be forgiven for thinking that Heathrow is not expanding – but it is!  It may not be by the number of flights coming in and out of Heathrow but it certainly is by passenger numbers.  The A380s have around 500 passengers each. At present Heathrow turns over 69 million passengers annually and once the redevelopment and construction of the five terminals are complete,  it will be able to cope with 90 million passengers a year.  This capacity is not something we hear about often but the fact is that Heathrow will be able to deal an extra  20 million  passengers annually!  This point is made well by AirportWatch yesterday in a letter to the Financial Times. 



Richmond Heathrow Campaign say Heathrow does not need to be expanded to better service more passengers, and to more destinations

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign have made a submission to the Airports Commission on making best short and medium term use of Heathrow. Increasing the seating capacity of the air fleet using Heathrow would facilitate full use of Heathrow’s terminal capacity of 90 million passengers a year (current use is around 70 million). They say Heathrow can be improved, and the amount of aircraft noise caused by Heathrow flights reduced, if there is a (1). More even distribution of aircraft movements across each hour of the day to avoid disruption and delay in peak hours and to end night flights.   (2). Increase the seating capacity of the Heathrow air fleet (i.e. more larger aircraft and fewer small aircraft), in order to increase the number of passengers per aircraft movement within the 480,000 movements limit operating in unbroken segregated mode.  (3). Reverse the strategy of attracting ever more transfer passengers to Heathrow, in order to free up terminal and aircraft capacity for more terminating passengers within the legal limit of 480,000 movements limit operating in unbroken segregated mode.  The Campaign says reducing 20 million transfers a year would free up runway capacity in whole or in part for around 140,000 flights a year from over-subscribed destinations to new destinations. There is a similar improvement as loads are increased from 149 to 187 passengers per flight.