Heathrow sees growth in passenger numbers, calls for hub facility

London Heathrow airport has underlined the need for hub capacity after reporting a rise in passenger numbers in 2013.

According to figures released by the airport, nearly 72.3m passengers passed through in 2013, an increase of 3.4 percent on 2012. Seats per aircraft increased 2.8 percent on 2012 and the average load factor was 76.4 percent, up one percentage point. Passengers per aircraft increased 3.7 percent to 154.8.

BRIC passengers were up 6.9 percent over the year, with China up 18.9 percent, and India up 8.7 percent.

European traffic in 2013 grew 4.4 percent, partly benefitting from the integration of bmi into British Airways’ network.

Heathrow CEO, Colin Matthews, said: ‘During 2013 Heathrow was named the best large airport in Europe, T5 was voted the ‘world’s best terminal’ for the second year running and we welcomed the Airports Commission’s shortlisting of Heathrow as an option for expansion. Our passenger figures reflect the growing demand for the long-haul destinations only a hub airport can support.

Yet Heathrow is full, leaving European hubs to add destinations whilst we look on. We are not against expansion at Gatwick, but greater point to point capacity is no substitute for new hub capacity, which only Heathrow can provide.’

Heathrow Hub is an independent proposal for an integrated air and rail facility that it is claimed would double Heathrow’s capacity and create new opportunities for noise mitigation. The hub concept proposes to extend the existing Heathrow runways to the West and then split them to create four, thereby doubling the number of slots.

The proposal was one of three short listed in Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published in December 2013. The Commission is now undertaking a detailed appraisal of the proposals before a public consultation in autumn this year.