Skift Take

The great London airport debate won't be solved by these numbers, as each side will spin these facts to their benefit: either Heathrow's delivering the goods, or it is too congested for future.

Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, had a record-breaking year in 2012, it was announced on Monday.

Heathrow handled almost 70 million passengers last year – a new calendar-year high and 0.9% more than in 2011.

The growth at the west London airport was driven by a 3.2% increase in north Atlantic traffic.

There were also many more flights to Brazil as well as growth on Middle East, central Asian and East Asian routes.

African traffic dipped 5.7% and Indian traffic was down 3.4% last year due to airlines either reducing or ceasing services.

European traffic rose just 0.5%. There were significant variances, reflecting economic conditions, with Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain seeing a collective passenger reduction of 4.5% over the course of 2012.

Greece experienced the largest reduction (down 7.3%) followed by Italy (down 6.8%). Offsetting this, Germany’s traffic increased by 2.3% and France’s traffic rose by 0.6%. Domestic traffic was up slightly, by 0.5%.

Brazil saw the biggest increase (up 21%), followed by China, which saw passenger numbers rise 5.9%, while Russia had a 4.5% increase in passenger numbers.

Planes in and out of Heathrow flew 75.6% full last year compared with 75.2% in 2011. The 2012 figure was another record.

Cargo traffic for 2012 was down 1.3%.

The 2012 statistics were boosted by record December figures, with 5.6 million passing through the airport – 2.0% up on December 2011.

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “The figures for 2012 show Heathrow is delivering higher passenger numbers despite a tough economic climate. At the same time passenger satisfaction reached record levels.

“Over the next 12 months we will continue to improve the passenger experience and focus on our investment programme, as we move towards completion of the new Terminal 2.”

Source: Press Association

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Photo credit: British Airways Boeing 747 400 taking off from Heathrow. Heathrow photo.

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