Record passenger growth recorded at UK airports

Over 251 million passengers used UK airports in 2015, an increase of 5.6% on the previous year and the highest number ever recorded.

Annual passenger numbers published by the Civil Aviation Authority show that in total 251.6 million passengers used a UK airport last year. This compares to 238.3 million in 2014 and 211 million in 2010, during the recession, when passenger numbers reduced substantially. The percentage increase from 2013 to 2014, in itself a strong year, was 4.4%.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, the trade body that represents over 50 airports across the UK, said: “Airports across the UK have worked incredibly hard to battle back from the economic recession and financial crisis of 2008-09, when passenger numbers fell markedly. They have continued to invest in their terminals and facilities so as to improve the overall experience for passengers, and this has been rewarded, with new routes now being announced on a regular basis. The main winners from this, of course, are travellers, who are now able to visit friends and family, enjoy a holiday or do business all over the world, with greater frequency and on an impressive mix of carriers.

“The sheer scale of this passenger growth, however, does have consequences, as on current projections it is likely that a number of airports across the UK will reach capacity quicker than was anticipated even a few years ago. In 2013 the Department for Transport’s highest scenario forecasts estimated there would be 235 million people travelling through UK airports – in the event, the figure is 17 million passengers higher.

“The sector will do everything it can to respond to and accommodate this growth, but we need the Government to do its bit as well, by responding to the Airports Commission Final Report by the summer and by setting out in an updated Aviation Policy Framework how it will enable and support making better use of existing capacity and also expansion at all airports which require it across the country. In return the sector will continue to invest in new infrastructure and do everything it can to improve its environmental performance, so that the country can continue to gain from growth in sustainable aviation.”