UK Airport Fun Facts

LHR - London/Heathrow

Good morning. Assuming we’re on time, I should be making my way toward the California coast as this goes out. I’ll be back home soon, and I’m looking forward to a nice and relaxing weekend. But first, let’s talk UK.

I realize this may not be fascinating to all of you (or, um, potentially most of you), but RDC Aviation puts out a great monthly report on UK air traffic data. The last report was for January – October 2009, and I found myself just fascinated by a lot of what’s in there. Here are some random fun facts in no particular order.

  • About 100 million passengers went through Heathrow, Gatwick, or Stansted through October. That’s more than half of the entire country’s air traffic.
  • A full 20 percent of the traffic at Gatwick is charter. That’s the largest charter airport in the UK.
  • Quick – what’s the largest destination country from the UK? Nope, not the US. It’s Spain with more than 27 million passengers. The US sees a paltry 14 million yet it is number one from London. There are nearly 16 million people going from the rest of the UK to Spain and that makes the difference. (Should I make my pasty white Brits comment again?)
  • Outside of the British Isles, Amsterdam is the number 1 destination. I’m surprised to see that Paris is #8 from London. Considering that most of that traffic is now on Eurostar, that shows just how big that market is.
  • Only one route within the UK carries over 1 million passengers – Heathrow to Edinburgh. If you add in the other London airports, you get to 2.5 million.
  • The largest domestic UK route not touching London? That’d be Belfast to Liverpool with 336,000 (another 123,000 if you include Belfast City airport).
  • #1 international? New York, of course. Heathrow to JFK has over 2 million people. Adding in Newark, you get close to three.
  • The largest US market that doesn’t touch London? How about those sunseekers in Manchester – more than 300,000 headed to Orlando.
  • The #1 charter route from the UK is from London to Dalaman. Manchester to Dalaman is second. Dalaman, by the way, is in Turkey.
  • Heathrow is the largest cargo airport, but #2 is actually East Midlands. In last place, we have Wick, which had one single tonne for the first 10 months of 2009.

See, I told you that was fun. Wait, hello? You guys still there? Definitely come back tomorrow for the Air NZ product launch coverage.

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17 comments on “UK Airport Fun Facts

  1. Amazing statistics! One piece of food for thought on LON-PAR is that much of that traffic is connecting to/from other destinations via the AF or BA hub systems.

  2. Wow, I would have thought that the charter totals would have been much higher for Gatwick. It seems like every other aircraft there belongs to a charter operator. I do wonder though, how many sardine sandwiches are sold at UK airports each year?

  3. “About 100 million passengers went through Heathrow, Gatwick, or Stansted through October. That’s more than half of the entire country’s air traffic.”

    Or nearly twice the population of the whole damned place

  4. Uh…question?

    #1 outside the British Isles is Amsterdam. I’m guessing that means #1 in Europe where #1 to the Americas is NYC?

    That also begs the question on #1 in Asia. Hard choice but I’d probably lean on Singapore over Hong Kong with Tokyo in 3rd?

  5. #1 in Asia is Hong Kong, then Singapore. Tokyo and Delhi aren’t even in the top 20.

    Does anyone know or want to speculate on the busiest air route in the world? My guess would be somewhere in Japan. I know that Japanese airlines run high density 747s on domestic routes.

  6. @ Brian Lusk:

    Both BA and EasyJet have large shorthaul operations from Gatwick. It would be interesting to see how much the charter traffic has fallen off since the recession as these are probably the most vulnerable. BTW intrigued by your reference to sardine sandwiches, where on earth do you eat when you come to the UK?

  7. It’s a lot easier to find your way in Gatwick than in Heathrow. They aren’t kidding when they say it’s one of these largest airports in the world! Make sure you’re on time. If you miss your connecting flight to Edinburgh (I did in 2007), they may question “why” you missed it. Be prepared with a solid answer!

  8. Wow…Delhi not making the Top 20 with all the ex-Pats living in the UK? That is amazing.

    Busiest route in the world, I’d guess HND-ITM if they’re still using the old Osaka airport. If not, still, HND-KIX would get my vote.

  9. @ Alex:

    2009 full year – HND-CTS, or Tokyo Haneda to Chitose, Sapporo with around 12.5m available seats followed by HND-FUK (Fukuoka) 10.2m. Busiest outside old-skool Asia DEL-BOM (8m) and in Europe…BCN-MAD 5.4m. North America looks like SFO-LAX (4m).

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