UK Airport Traffic 2008

The UK’s airports reported a fall in commercial traffic in 2008, according to official statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority. The 58 licensed facilities handled 239,497,421 passengers between January and December 2008, a 1.95% fall on the previous year. All but six of the country’s top 20 airports reported a decline in passenger numbers, the most pronounced drop being at Newcastle International in the North East, where traffic fell by over 10%, from 5.6 million to just over 5 million. This marked the end of a period of strong growth which had seen the airport more than double passenger numbers in a three-year spell, which had taken it into the top ten in the country. It has now slipped back down to 13th place, overtaken by Belfast International and Liverpool/John Lennon, which both reported shallower falls in demand, and by East Midlands International, which reported a 3.8% growth.
The country’s four largest gateways – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in London, and Manchester – all reported modest declines, the largest being at Stansted where traffic fell by almost 6% due to a reduction in capacity by some of its based low-cost airlines. London/Luton, Birmingham and Bristol bucked the negative trend, with 2.6%, 4.4% and 5.8% growth respectively, although both Bristol and Luton recorded double-digit falls in November and December as the economic crisis deepened towards the end of last year. Scotland’s two largest facilities – Edinburgh and Glasgow – had mixed fortunes, the former reporting only a small 0.5% decrease in traffic in 2008, while the latter recorded a 7% fall, the largest among the country’s top ten airports.
Elsewhere, notable double-digit growth was seen at London City (11.9%), Belfast City (17.6%), Newquay (23.8%) and Plymouth (17.1%), although on the flip side, some regional airports saw large falls in traffic. These included Doncaster Sheffield (-10.2%), Durham Tees Valley (-11.9%), Norwich (-16.6%), Blackpool (-21.3%) and Coventry (-44.8%). Newquay, which has risen from 34th to 30th largest airport, would have grown by a greater percentage had it not been forced to close for half of December awaiting its new civilian licence (it reported a 77% fall in passengers that month compared to December 2007). The fastest-growing airport in the country last year was Gloucestershire/Staverton, which handled 20,128 passengers, a 276% rise on the 5,359 figure of 2007.