Connecting passengers boost Heathrow airport

[November 10th 2008]

Airport scene

Figures released today by the CAA show the importance to Heathrow airport of passengers on connecting flights.

The CAA report, ‘Connecting passengers at UK airports’, reveals that passengers on connecting flights form 35.1% of total passengers at Heathrow. This confirms Heathrow’s status as a major international hub airport.

The report also shows how international flight connections at Heathrow have grown over the years. In 1987 passengers connecting between international flights made up just 56.8% of the total, while domestic to international flight connections were responsible for 41.8%.

Fewer passengers are now using domestic flights to connect to international flights at Heathrow. Last year the figure was just 23.9%, compared to 76.1% connecting via international flights.

The CAA says its survey “suggests that connecting passengers at Heathrow help to maintain a wider range of flights to different destinations and help to ensure more frequent flights to popular, often business, destinations”.

If it were not for connecting passengers some routes would not get enough demand from local traffic to make them economically viable, says the CAA.

In contrast to Heathrow, the number of connecting passengers at Gatwick has declined after BA abandoned its two hub strategy in 2002 to just 13.1% in 2007. With the opening of Terminal 5, BA has transferred even more long haul flights from Gatwick to Heathrow so the number of connecting passengers at Gatwick is likely to fall further.

Passengers on connecting flights make up 9.1% of the total at Stansted airport, despite there being little incentive or assistance for them says the CAA. “These connectors may have been attracted by the range of destinations and low fares offered at Stansted, together with its position, which makes it attractive as a connecting point between Ireland or Scotland and much of mainland Europe, as well as between Southern Europe and Scandinavia.

Despite having a similar number of passengers to Stansted, passengers on connecting flights make up only 3% of the total at Manchester airport. This is because Manchester has a high proportion of charter flights and charter passengers “have a low propensity to connect between services” says the report.

Written by: Nick Purdom


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Connecting Passengers Boost Heathrow Airport