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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 13:03 GMT


Record numbers 'up up and away'
image: [ Another busy day at Gatwick ]
Another busy day at Gatwick

Britain's leading airports handled a record 103.3 million passengers in 1997 - a 6.7% increase on the 1996 figure.

[ image:  ]
The biggest rises at BAA's seven UK airports were at Southampton, Gatwick and Stansted which all experienced increases of more than 11%.

The fastest growth was on routes to and from the Irish Republic, where passenger numbers increased 10%.

Heathrow handled 57.8 million passengers last year - an increase of 3.7%.

[ image: British Airways jets line up at Heathrow]
British Airways jets line up at Heathrow
British Airways' expansion at Gatwick helped the West Sussex airport to increase passenger numbers by 11.2% to 26.8 million in 1997.

Stansted handled 5.4 million passengers - up 11.5% on the 1996 total, while Southampton's total of 617,000 represented a 12.4% increase.

Glasgow airport numbers rose 9.9% to 6.01 million, Edinburgh was up 9.1% to 4.15 million, and Aberdeen increased 8% to 2.56 million.

North Atlantic passenger numbers were up 9.4%, other long haul route traffic rose 7.8% and European charter numbers increased 7.4%.

Domestic route passenger numbers were 5.2% up while European scheduled passengers increased 5.1%.

The rise in figures was achieved despite a slowing down in growth in December 1997, partly caused by the fire at Heathrow airport on December 12 and also due to a decline in travel by East Asians.

European tie-up

British Airways has unveiled plans to form a strategic alliance in Central Europe with the Polish airline LOT.

The move is part of BA's drive to fight competition from other European airlines and alliances and will see BA and LOT develop a new network serving Central Europe.

BA chief executive Bob Ayling met his counterpart, LOT president Jan Litwinski, in Warsaw on Thursday in a key step to reaching an agreement by April.

The talks could lead to agreements on flights between Manchester and Warsaw, Gatwick and Krakow, as well as flights to other parts of central Europe.

Mr Ayling said: "To date we have concentrated on developing our links with Europe from London and from our footholds in the French and German markets. "Today we have taken a big step towards extending our alliance network throughout Central Europe to meet the competitive forces of established carriers and airline alliances."

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