UK CAA Reports on Impact of Olympic Traffic on Country’s Airports

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published the results of its 2012 passenger survey, revealing the impact of last year’s Olympic Games on passenger numbers at Britain’s airports.  The CAA carries out its annual passenger survey to improve its understanding of the people who use the UK’s airports.

Despite overall passenger numbers between July and September in 2012 falling compared to the same period in 2011, the results published today show over 800,000 passengers passed through London’s airports for Olympic-related journeys during these months; 54 per cent of these journeys were at Heathrow, with the next highest proportion at Gatwick (18 per cent).

Unsurprisingly the majority (71 per cent) of these Olympic journeys were for leisure with visitors heading to the UK to enjoy the London 2012 experience.  However, almost a third (29 per cent) of these journeys for business purposes – which would include many of the 10,000 athletes who attended the Games.

The 2012 survey questioned over 210,000 departing passengers at five London airports (City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted) as well as Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter).

Other key findings from the CAA’s 2012 Air Passenger Survey included:

• Heathrow is the only airport surveyed in 2012 where the majority of passengers were foreign residents (59 per cent). By contrast, Exeter had the smallest proportion of foreign residents using the airport (9 per cent).

• Heathrow had the highest proportion (37 per cent) of connecting passengers using the airport, up by three percentage points from 2011.  By comparison, Bristol, Cardiff and East Midlands airports all saw less than one per cent of their passengers using the airport to change aircraft.

• London City had the largest proportion of passengers travelling for business (54 per cent).  However this represents a nine percentage point drop since 2010 (when the airport was last surveyed) as a greater proportion of leisure passengers have used the airport.  The next highest was Heathrow with 30 per cent, whilst the airports with the highest proportion of leisure passengers were East Midlands 91 per cent, and Bristol and Cardiff both with 86 per cent.

• Travellers from Heathrow took a higher proportion of trips (21 per cent) lasting more than two weeks than anywhere else.  In contrast, London City had the lowest proportion of the London airports at only four per cent.  Outside of London, the highest percentage of trips over two weeks was recorded at Manchester, with 13.4 per cent. The lowest was at Cardiff at 5.2 per cent.

“Last year’s Olympics put London and the UK in the spotlight and today’s survey results show the impact the Games had on passenger numbers at our airports. Almost a million visitors flew into London for the Olympics, but overall passenger number s fell,” said Iain Osborne, group director of regulatory policy at the CAA.

“The CAA passenger survey results also offer an invaluable insight into the people who use UK airports and why they do so. As such, they provide a vital resource for the aviation industry to use to ensure their services meet the changing needs of today’s air passengers,” he added.