13-Jan-2012 12:02 PM

London Heathrow operating at 99% capacity; warns capacity constraints are damaging UK economy

UK's BAA stated (11-Jan-2012) BAA airports handled 108.5 million passengers in 2011, an increase of 4.4% year-on-year. After adjusting for exceptional events in 2010 such as British Airways strikes, volcanic ash and snow disruption, the underlying increase was 0.9%. There was also a record 476,197 flights, which represent 99.2% of London Heathrow’s annual limit of 480,000, with BAA commenting that "this means the capacity constraints at Heathrow are tighter than ever, restricting growth in the UK economy". BAA stated the impact of these capacity constraints means "airlines are prevented from developing new routes to emerging market destinations such as Manila, Guangzhou and Jakarta". BAA noted 21 emerging market destinations now have daily services from Continental European hubs but not Heathrow and this "lack of connectivity is costing the UK economy £1.2bn a year in lost trade", meaning the "UK risks falling even further behind in coming years as continental hubs expand further". BAA added there was only a small increase in passenger traffic to/from China (growth of 3% to just 57,509) in 2011, which is less than the overall increase in passenger numbers. [more - original PR]

BAA: "As the UK’s only international hub airport, Heathrow is central to developing our trade links with fast-growing emerging markets. Capacity constraints are damaging the UK economy today when the country can least afford it. A new hub airport has been proposed in the South East, but this has a projected cost of £50billion and may take decades to build. During this time we would be handing over on a plate the UK's historic trade advantages to our European competitors," Colin Matthews, CEO. Source: Company statement, 11-Jan-2012.

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