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UK air travel continues to soar

The past three years have been largely successful for UK airports, with more passengers travelling through them each year.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, 228 million passengers travelled through the UK’s airports in 2013 – that’s 7.8 million more (3.5%) than in 2012. The CAA explained that “this growth continues the recovery started in 2011 following three years of falling passenger numbers.” Last year’s passenger numbers were much higher than in 2010, when the airports saw just 210 million passengers. However, at 4.8% below their peak in 2007, there is still work to be done. “Our figures show the strength of underlying demand for air travel,” said Iain Osborne, CAA director of regulatory policy.

“Solid growth in UK GDP may mean that passenger numbers continue to grow healthily.” Osborne also commented on the importance of the aviation industry tackling the environmental impact of increased passenger numbers; such as aircraft noise and carbon emissions. “Addressing these issues is vital if aviation is to grow,” he said.

Busiest airports - The five London airports saw the most traffic, handling a combined total 140 million passengers – an increase of 3.5% on 2012 figures. Four of those five (Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and Southend) saw their highest ever annual total. Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport with 72.3 million passengers, up by 3.4%, while Gatwick, London City and Southend saw increases of 3.5%, 12% and 57% respectively.

The busiest airport outside of London is Manchester International, which handled one million more passengers in 2013 – an increase of 5.2% to make its total 20 million. The vast majority of the UK’s airport passengers were travelling to or from Europe, with Spain seeing an increase of 4.8% (1.6 million people) and Cyprus seeing the largest fall – 7.2%.

In 2013, 2.2% – or 20 million – more people took UK domestic flights, representing the first annual increase since 2005. This is likely down to an increase in the number of ‘staycations’ families are taking. While a passport isn’t required to travel domestically, passengers still need a valid form of ID and adequate travel insurance.

Date Created: 17 March 2014

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