In 2012, 70 million passengers passed through Heathrow Airport, a figure that was 0.9% higher than in 2011. In the UK as a whole, 221 million passengers used the airports, a 0.6% increase compared to the preceding year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Part of the reason for the rise in passenger numbers, at Heathrow at least, is being put down to the Olympics. Many athletes and other visitors arrived in London for the event, and this is likely to have boosted traveller numbers.
The amount of passengers travelling on scheduled flights in the UK during the year rose by 1.5%, but passengers on charter flights fell by 8%. Numbers of travellers using Gatwick also went up by 1.7%, and at London City Airport the rise was of 0.8%.
Despite the impressive figures, the number of people travelling through the UK’s airports is still below the 2007 figure of 240 million, and the regulatory policy director of the CAA, Iain Osborne, said that “there are still significant challenges ahead”.
Heathrow has also continued to see higher passenger numbers this year. In February 4.85 million passengers flew to or from the airport, which was 1% more than the same month a year earlier and 4.6% more when adjusted due to the fact that 2012 was a leap year.
Travellers to and from China saw a rise of 30%, European flights were up 4.4%, and the number of travellers to and from the Middle East increased by 6.2%, although traffic to the Americas saw a slight fall.