BA strike dents BAA recovery

BA strike dents BAA recovery

The strike by British Airways cabin crew has led to a 1.5 percent slide in traffic at BAA’s six UK airports between February and March.

Passenger numbers in March fell to 8.2 million, with an estimated 200,000 passengers lost due to two bouts of industrial action by the flag carrier’s cabin crew.

Despite the strike, traffic at Heathrow year grew by 0.4 percent year-on-year, and BAA estimated this figure would have been nearer 4 percent were it not for the BA strike.

The airport operator also estimated that passenger numbers across its portfolio of airports would have grown 1 percent year-on-year.

BAA also estimated that passenger traffic across its airports would have grown by 1 per cent had the strikes not gone ahead.

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Stansted, which was not affected by the strike, is still struggling to shrug off the effects of the downturn, registering a 4.2 percent decline in traffic on last year due to the short breaks leisure market remaining fragile.

BAA three Scotland’s airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – continue to suffer from the downturn, with the effects worsened by the BA strikes. Traffic fell 5.8 percent overall, with Glasgow down 9.6 percent, Edinburgh down 3.3 percent and Aberdeen down 4.4 percent.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, said: “There is no doubt that the market remains difficult, compounded by industrial action last month. Despite the industrial action, Heathrow continued to demonstrate its resilience which comes from its role as the UK’s only hub airport.”

European scheduled services across the group recorded a 0.1 percent increase and North Atlantic traffic was up by 1.7 percent. Other long haul traffic rose by 0.5 percent overall with services from Heathrow to China (up 10.9 percent), the Middle East (up 7.2 percent) and South America (up 6.8 percent) doing particularly well. Domestic traffic dropped 6.8 percent, largely as a result of the BA strike.

In March 2009 the Competition Commission ruled that BAA should sell three airports, including Gatwick and Stansted, to break up its ownership of seven UK airports.

Following the sale of Gatwick, BAA appealed against the decision which was upheld by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The Competition Commission is now deciding whether to appeal against the decision and attempt to restore its original ruling.