A total of 5.6 million passengers passed through London Heathrow in December, a record for the month and up two per cent on December 2011.
This took the number of passengers for 2012 to almost 70 million, the highest ever for a calendar year at Heathrow, and an increase of 0.9 per cent compared with 2011.
Heathrow’s performance in 2012 was led by North Atlantic traffic which increased 3.2 per cent.
There was strength in services to Brazil, up 21.6 per cent (due to more flights), the Middle East and central Asia, up 3.4 per cent (due partially to recovery in key markets from the unrest in the region that impacted 2011) and East Asia, up 6.2 per cent (due partly to recovery from 2011’s Japanese tsunami).
This was, however, offset by weakness in African and Indian traffic, down 5.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively, due to airlines reducing or ceasing services.
Heathrow’s European traffic increased modestly, up 0.5 per cent.
However, there were significant variances, reflecting economic conditions, with Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain seeing a collective passenger reduction of 4.5 per cent over the course of 2012.
Greece experienced the largest reduction (-7.3 per cent) followed by Italy (-6.8 per cent).
Offsetting this, Germany’s traffic increased by 2.3 per cent and France’s traffic rose by 0.6 per cent.
Domestic traffic was up slightly, by 0.5 per cent.
The BRIC economies performed well throughout 2012, collectively up 2.4 per cent.
Of these, Brazil saw the biggest increase, followed by China, which saw passenger numbers rise 5.9 per cent, while Russia had a 4.5 per cent increase in passenger numbers.
Heathrow Airport 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 twelve 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.”