UK air traffic rose slightly in the calendar year 2013 compared to the previous year, in spite of a number of issues, including European strike action and bad weather, with their associated delays and flight cancellations.
NATS, the UK’s major air traffic management company, handled 2,153,995 flights in total, a rise of 0.4 per cent.
Figures are still well below peak numbers in 2007, when air traffic was almost 13 per cent higher than in 2013.
Martin Rolfe, managing director operations, NATS, said: “We have successfully managed the slight increase in air traffic this year, keeping safety as our number one priority.
“A total of 2,153,995 movements were handled by NATS, signifying growth, and we’re looking forward to supporting an even busier and more successful 2014.”
Looking at all flights handled in UK airspace, the best performing segment during 2013 was ‘Non-Transatlantic Overflights’ which saw an increase of 2.5 per cent.
In contrast, the worst performing segment, ‘Domestic’ saw a 2.5 per cent decline.
Instrument Flight Rules traffic - when pilots fly using instruments instead of visually – in 2013 rose significantly in Scotland, with Aberdeen seeing growth of 5.7 per cent and Glasgow following suit with a rise of 3.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, IFR traffic declined in other areas, such as Cardiff, which saw a fall of 7.7 per cent and Bristol, which was down by 7.3 per cent.
Technical issues at NATS’ Swanwick Control Centre in Hampshire on December 7th 2013, coupled with the bad weather experienced by the UK at the beginning of December and again at Christmas, severely impacted flights during the month.
NATS attributable delays caused an increase in average delay of 89.3 minutes in December, per delayed flight, compared to 20.1 minutes in 2012.
However, the overall NATS average delay for the UK for 2013 was approximately five seconds per flight.
The European average performance for the same period was around 25 seconds delay per flight.
NATS handled a total of 152,340 flights during the month of December, a figure that shows a rise of 2.1 per cent when compared to the traffic handled in December 2012.