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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
UK air passenger numbers fall
Planes at Heathrow
Air traffic: Still not as busy as last year
The number of UK passengers boarding flights fell last month, according to new figures from airports operator BAA.

The figures suggest that a long-awaited recovery in the travel industry, badly hit by the economic downturn and the 11 September attacks, is still some way off.

A total of 7.9 million passengers passed through the seven airports controlled by the BAA last month, 4.5% fewer than in April 2001.

The company blamed the sharp decline on the early arrival of the Easter holidays this year, which shifted the traditional seasonal surge in travel bookings to March.

But a comparison of passenger numbers for both March and April against 2001 figures, which strips out the effect of the early Easter, still revealed a 0.7% decline.

London airports less busy

Passenger numbers for April alone fell particularly steeply on European and transatlantic routes, reflecting a shortfall in holiday bookings.

Of BAA's seven airports, Edinburgh, Stansted and Glasgow posted strong growth in April, underpinned by an increase in bookings with no-frills carriers Easyjet and Ryanair.

But passenger numbers at BAA's flagship London airport Heathrow fell 3.5%, while the capital's second-biggest hub Gatwick posted an 18.3% decline.

In London, BAA shares were marked 6p lower at 632p in late morning trade.

Passenger numbers slumped by 6% on the year last September, reflecting the downturn in the air industry after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

See also:

13 Dec 01 | Business
Terror attacks haunt BAA trade
12 Nov 01 | Business
BAA sees no pick-up in air users
11 Nov 01 | Business
Heathrow terminal five 'to go ahead'
29 Oct 01 | Business
BAA joins cost cutting spree
11 Feb 02 | Business
BAA hails 'gradual recovery'
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