BAA has warned that it was facing a tough 2010 with Heathrow the only one of its six airports to register a rise in traffic. Its Scottish airports were badly hit by the collapse of Flyglobespan, as well as by adverse recent weather.
The number of people travelling from BAA airports fell by 1.9 per cent last month due largely to the snow and fog, compared with December 2008, when overall figures fell by 0.9 per cent to eight million.
Colin Matthews, the chief executive of BAA said: “2009 was a difficult year for our airline customers. Towards the end of the year, we saw signs of improvements, particularly at Heathrow, but there are more challenging times ahead in 2010.
“Passengers at airports across Europe and North America were affected by cancellations and disruption arising from fog and snow. It is estimated that weather conditions accounted for the loss of 150,000 passengers at BAA’s airports.”
However, BAA’s main airport Heathrow numbers grew by 1.2 per cent on December 2008, as the green shoots of a global recovery led to a rise in European scheduled flights and in long-haul flights to Asia, Africa and Australia.
At Stansted, hit by the decline in short-haul flying, numbers fell again, but only by 2.6 per cent, the airport’s best performance since March 2008.
Overall, 106.9 million passengers passed through BAA’s UK airports in 2009, down 4.2 per cent on 2008. The rate of decline slowed to 1.2 per cent in the fourth quarter.
BAA sold Gatwick last month but recently won an appeal against the Competition Commission, which was forcing the sale of Stansted and one of its Scottish airports.
The collapse of Flyglobespan took its toll in Scotland, with Glasgow down 8.8 per cent, Edinburgh down 4.4 per cent and Aberdeen down 9.4 per cent.
Southampton’s passenger figures fell 5.9 per cent. North Atlantic traffic was down 5.7 per cent while other long-haul routes were up 3.5 per cent.