Stansted passenger numbers down 15%

STANSTED Airport suffered a 15% drop in passenger numbers between January and May this year as airlines slashed capacity in response to the economic downturn.

STANSTED Airport suffered a 15% drop in passenger numbers between January and May this year as airlines slashed capacity in response to the economic downturn.

Its performance prompted calls for an early sale of the airport as “the only way to protect London tourism and jobs”.

BAA saw passenger numbers fall by an average 7.3% across its seven UK airports last month after the recession took its toll on North Atlantic traffic. At Stansted, the fall was greater at 18.5% down over the same period as airlines continued to reduce schedules in response to the economic downturn.

The company said demand remained weak after monthly figures showed it handled 11.8 million passengers in May, 1.6m of them at Stansted.

Heathrow recorded a smaller drop of 3.9% on last year, and BAA said the airport demonstrated its "resilience" and its importance as an international hub. Meanwhile, Gatwick improved on recent trends with a decrease of 6.5%.

The operator said the overall figures were in line with trends recorded since December. Its European scheduled traffic was down by 5.2%, North Atlantic traffic by 9.1%, and other long haul routes recorded a collective 1.8% decrease. Meanwhile domestic traffic was down by 10%.

Most Read

At Stansted, passenger numbers have fallen by 10% between June of last year and May 2009, and its air transport movements have decreased by 12.3% over the same period. Its metric tonnage of cargo is down by 10.5% over the year.

Edinburgh was the only airport to record an increase in traffic, with passenger numbers up 1.4% due to the introduction of new low-cost services. Glasgow saw a 11.7% drop, while passenger numbers at Aberdeen were down by 14.1% and by 12.5% at Southampton.

BAA is currently fighting a Competition Commission decision to make it sell three of its airports after ruling that BAA's ownership of seven UK airports was anti-competitive.

The commission said that BAA must sell Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh. BAA had already decided to sell Gatwick in West Sussex and said last month that that sale process was continuing.

Ryanair yesterday repeated its call for the early sale of Stansted following the news of the fall in passenger numbers.

Stephen McNamara of Ryanair said: “Today's confirmation that London Stansted traffic has collapsed by 19% so far this year proves that the Competition Commission's recommendation that the airport be sold is the only way to protect London tourism and jobs and we call for the fast-tracking of its sale in order to tackle the airport's plummeting traffic.

“The abysmal performance of BAA airports underlines the urgent need for government action to protect UK tourism and UK jobs.”