London Heathrow Airport is just down the road (well, kind of) from our office in Chiswick, so we were excited to hear that it saw record passenger numbers in 2012. The airport offers great service if you’re staying in the City in one of our London serviced apartments, and with top travel connections can also be a gateway to most of the south of England.
70 million people passed through the UK’s busiest airport in 2012 – the highest ever yearly figure. This is, according to the airport, partly due to a 3.2% increase in north Atlantic traffic.
Changes in passenger numbers can be affected by many factors, including alterations to routes, but many of the statistics released by Heathrow Airport reflect key business travel trends and, beyond that, political and economic conditions in the destinations themselves.
In particular, the airport experienced a huge rise (21%) in flights to Brazil. The number of flights available to the country is increasing as it gears up to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. But it also currently boasts one of the world’s strongest economies.
China and Russia – other members of the ‘BRICS’ group of rapidly growing economies – saw passenger numbers rise by 5.9% and 4.5% respectively.
A more politically stable environment led to increases in flights to the Middle East and central Asia, while traffic to east Asia increased by 6.2%, reflecting Japan’s recovery from 2011’s tsunami. Recession-afflicted Spain and Greece, meanwhile, saw reductions of 9.4% and 4.2% respectively.
Heathrow has been operating close to full capacity for several years and is the third busiest airport in the world. London’s geographical position makes Heathrow a key interchange airport for flights between the US and Europe or Asia.