Overall softening economic conditions are being reflected in falling number of passengers travelling through BAA's seven UK airports. The numbers fell sharply in September, as compared to the previous nine months of the year, with passenger traffic declining by five per cent year-on-year for the month.
This is a marked fall as compared with a more gradual decline of 1.4 per cent in the first nine months. Data shows traffic volumes have declined six months in succession and, overall, have dipped in seven of nine months this year.
The fall in numbers is attributable to lesser demand for air travel because of weaker consumer confidence and higher fares. Though in motion for the best part of the year, the downturn has only accelerated.
Glasgow airport has registered the steepest fall in traffic, reporting a decline of 11 per cent year-on-year. This is also attributable to the collapse of Zoom Airlines and XL Airways in recent weeks.
The collapse of these two airlines also impacted London Gatwick, where traffic numbers tumbled 6.8 per cent in September.
There are other reasons for Gatwick's loss of popularity, however, such as the transfer of a large number of its US long-haul services to Heathrow as a result of the US/European Union "open skies" treaty. The treaty opens London Heathrow to full competition for all US and European carriers.
US carriers American and Continental have also closed their Gatwick bases and British Airways has transferred several of its US long-haul services to Heathrow from Gatwick.
Gatwick has now been offered for sale by the BAA.
Failing European charter traffic is another factor responsible for the decline in numbers at Gatwick. Such traffic declined 12.6 per cent year-on-year, and also led to the collapse of XL Leisure Group, the third largest UK tour operator.
North Atlantic traffic declined 6.8 per cent and passenger load on other long-haul routes dipped six per cent.
Heathrow traffic numbers declined 3.6 per cent year-on-year while passenger volumes fell 4.7 per cent at London Stansted.