This past March was one of the
busiest London’s transportation industry has seen. BAA reported 8.6 million
travelers through their six airports this March, which is a 4% increase over
traffic at the same time last year. At least partially responsible for the
higher number of passengers was the date of Easter, which fell in March, as
opposed to last year’s April holiday date.
Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, experienced a 6.9% increase in traffic over
last March, serving 5.7 million travelers this year. 1998 saw Heathrow surpass
60 million passengers in a 12-month. Thanks to the high number of March
holidaymakers, London’s busiest airport has now exceeded 70 million travelers.
Heathrow has been experiencing an increase in load factors over the last year, to
which this year’s Easter date certainly contributed. Somewhat surprisingly,
considering the high number of passengers, Heathrow’s cargo increased a mere
tenth of a percent.
BAA recorded a 13.6% surge in North Atlantic travel, and a 5.2% increase in other
long flights. The company saw a 3.2% rise in its largest market, European
scheduled flights. Europe’s ski season also contributed to an increase in
European Charter travel. The BRIC countries saw increased traffic from
Heathrow, with travel to Brazil up an astonishing 62.3%.
Heathrow airport taxis also saw a surge in passengers this March. With so many
people rushing to and from the airport, many travelers find road congestion
more than a little inconvenient. Those intending to travel through London’s busiest
airport in the future would do well to plan ahead and schedule their Heathrow
taxi, to avoid last-minute delays and costly airport parking fees.
The Easter travel frenzy was hardly limited to London’s Heathrow airport.
Scotland’s Glasgow airport saw a 4.6% rise in traffic. Aberdeen, already seeing
a growth trend, increased its traffic by 10.2%. Unlike Heathrow, whose higher
traffic percentages were mostly passenger related, much of Aberdeen’s increased
commerce is due to traffic associated with domestic oil.
Conversely, Edinburgh, Stansted and Southampton saw a decrease in traffic over
last March. Edinburgh was down 2.8%, Stansted, 4.7%, and Southampton, 1.7%. The
lower number of domestic travelers is credited with the drop in passengers at
Southampton and Edinburgh airports. Travelers interested in a domestic vacation
may find Scotland an ideal destination, as lower numbers of passengers make for
an easier airline experience.
According to Colin Mathews, BAA Chief Executive, Heathrow airport is currently
functioning very near maximum capacity, at 99.2%. This inhibits the ability of
airlines to offer new flights. For travelers, the news is both daunting and
encouraging. BAA is handling their passenger load well, but Heathrow airport is
busier than ever and seems likely to remain so. Savvy airline travelers will
book their Heathrow taxis early to insure a smoother, less stressful journey.