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Monday, 15 January, 2001, 12:17 GMT
Rail passengers take to the air
Planes at Heathrow Airport
Airports have benefited from the rail chaos
The chaos on the railways following the Hatfield crash has resulted in a marked increase in domestic air travel.

Where the rail companies have lost out because of the speed restrictions carried out following the crash in October last year, the airlines have gained.

Air traffic between UK cities rose by 14.3% in December, a rise which the British Airports Authority (BAA) has attributed directly to the aftermath of the Hatfield crash.

An additional 150,000 passengers flew to other UK destinations in December 2000 over the same month in 1999.

It follows a 5.6% year on year increase in passenger numbers in November.

The figures will alarm the train companies who are already suffering from the collapse in confidence in the rail system following the Hatfield crash.

Hatfield crash disaster
Rail companies are still struggling following the Hatfield crash
Last month, the government's chief transport adviser, David Beggs, warned that the switch from train to airlines could be made permanent if train operators did not get their timetables back to normal quickly.

Currently 23 of the 28 rail companies have restored their pre-Hatfield timetable.

It was a good month all around for Britain's airports which reported a 11.8% increase in traffic over the same month in December 1999.

European charter traffic grew in December by 12.4%, longhaul (other than North Atlantic) by 15.5% and European scheduled services rose by 9.9%.

The biggest beneficiaries were Stansted Airport where the number of passengers increased by 31.1% during the month to 866,300.

Britain's busiest airport Heathrow saw a 7.5% increase in passenger numbers, while Gatwick recorded an increase of 12.8%, to 2 million passengers.

Some of the increases have been attributed to the millennium bug which scared away many air passengers last year.

The year 2000 broke all records for BAA, with passenger traffic up by 6% overall. A total of 123.8 million passengers passed through Britain's major airports.

The continuing success of low-fare airlines like Ryanair, Go and Easyjet has seen passenger numbers to European destinations up by 8.8% last year to 44.7 million.

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See also:

11 Dec 00 | Business
Rail anger prompts air boom
22 Nov 00 | UK
Flying off the rails
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