UK Civil Aviation Authority announced UK airports handled 210 million passengers in 2010, a 3.4% year-on-year fall. The CAA noted passenger numbers have now fallen consecutively for three years and are now lower than 2004 levels.
UK Civil Aviation Authority: “The UK's fragile recovery is not yet driving increases in passenger numbers. Although the decline in business travel levelled out last year, leisure travel continued to fall in 2010. Without the year’s exceptional events, with snow, strikes and volcanic ash all affecting aviation, passenger numbers overall would likely have been level with 2009. Although airports in the South East of England were less affected, airports in the rest of the UK saw significant falls in passenger numbers, with some now facing financial challenges as a result. Airlines have in the main coped well with unprecedented drops in passenger numbers, increasing load factors and sustaining margins where possible. Overall, the outlook for aviation is still uncertain. A return to robust economic growth should see increased passenger numbers, but this will be affected by other costs that bear on the sector, such as high oil prices and taxation, and by the availability of capacity. Congestion in the South-East could also see more customers flying from regional airports, or via other European hubs to travel to or from the UK." Iain Osborne, Director of Regulatory Policy. Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority, 10-Mar-2011.