London Gatwick served over 2.5 million passengers during March, up by 2.5% on the prior year and the highest traffic figures seen in March for five years, with the sustained cold weather and the earlier start to the Easter getaway contributing to the growth in traffic this month.
There was 5.1% growth in traffic to long haul markets with 27,800 more passengers travelling to destinations across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Following several months of decline, European scheduled traffic was up 1.9% (25,400 more passengers) and European charter traffic was up 3.9% (9,400 more passengers).
Gatwick’s load factors, which show how full the average flight was, reached a record for the month at 83.1% - up 3.2% on the prior year.
In spite of continuing tough economic conditions, full year traffic grew by 1.2% taking the total number of passengers handled by Gatwick in 2012-13 to 34.2 million passengers – up from 33.8 million in the prior year.
Growth was achieved despite some airlines reducing services or ceasing to operate at Gatwick; Ryanair withdrew all non-Irish routes, Korean Air consolidated winter services at Heathrow after renewed competition from BA, Adria Airways relocated to Luton and, more recently, Air Moldova moved operations to Stansted.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport’s Chief Executive, said: “This year Gatwick has continued to compete with other London airports in attracting more passengers, new airlines and new routes.
“Through our continuing investment in the airport and relentless focus on improving the passenger experience we have seen traffic figures rise despite the backdrop of tough economic conditions at home and abroad.
“We have seen existing airlines like easyJet, British Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle grow and new airlines arrive, opening up even more choice and connectivity for passengers.
Wingate adds: “Today, passengers can fly direct to Beijing, Istanbul, Moscow and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam from Gatwick.
“Later this year, we will be opening up the country’s first direct route to Jakarta in Indonesia. This is important in the context of ensuring the UK has the international connectivity it needs to remain globally competitive.
“We will continue into this next financial year with the same drive and focus to create a world-class airport.” Concludes Wingate.
During the course of the year, Gatwick continued its £1.2 billion transformation of the airport which included the completion of the North Terminal baggage handling project and the opening of Europe’s largest World Duty Free store in South Terminal. On the airfield, the world’s busiest runway was resurfaced while maintaining business-as-usual operations and Gatwick’s new pier-served A380 stand was officially opened.