The UK is missing out on economic growth because of capacity constraints at London’s Heathrow airport, according to BAA.
Heathrow recorded its busiest-ever September last month, handling 1.4 per cent more passengers than during the same month in 2010. However, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews warned London’s largest airport is at risk of falling behind its European rivals in terms of connections to emerging markets.
Matthews said: “While existing routes are performing well, capacity constraints mean the UK is lagging behind in its connections to emerging market destinations – for example, Paris and Frankfurt already boast 1,000 more annual flights to China’s three largest cities than Heathrow. The UK is not just missing out on flight connections, but the economic growth these links bring.”
BAA’s six UK airports handled some 10.08 million passengers last month, a one per cent increase on September last year. The rise in passenger numbers came despite a four per cent fall in the amount of people using Stansted airport in Essex.
Matthews added: “Passenger numbers rose in September, with stronger growth across the group than in July and August.
“Slightly softer Heathrow traffic in the latter part of September, vigilance in the near term from individual carriers and problems facing the European economy make us cautious about predicting traffic growth trends in the coming months. However, Heathrow is expected to demonstrate its previous resilience if a more challenging economic environment emerges.”
Meanwhile, Gatwick airport has opened a new £45m security area to help passengers pass through the airport at greater speed. The new facility at the airport’s south terminal should allow passengers to be processed in under five minutes.
Nearly 5,000 people can travel through to the terminal’s departure lounge every hour via the 19 new security lanes. Two of the lanes are reserved for passengers travelling first class or business class, while another two lanes are especially for passengers with reduced mobility and families with young children.
Large screens will let passengers know what they can and cannot take through security, while the new security area also has security access gates to allow people to swipe their boarding card or smartphone displaying their boarding card to get through the gates.
Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “We’re committed to making the airport experience an easier, speedier and less stressful experience for our passengers.
“This opening is just part of a £1.2bn investment in Gatwick, as we continually look to innovate and deliver solutions that will provide real benefit for passengers.”