CAA’s survey results reveal impact of London 2012 on passenger numbers at UK airports

Date: 04 November 2013

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today 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% of these journeys were at Heathrow, with the next highest proportion at Gatwick (18%).

Unsurprisingly the majority (71%) of these Olympic journeys were for leisure with visitors heading to the UK to enjoy the London 2012 experience. However, almost a third (29%) 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 include:
• Heathrow is the only airport surveyed in 2012 where the majority of passengers were foreign residents (59%). By contrast, Exeter had the smallest proportion of foreign residents using the airport (9%).
• Heathrow had the highest proportion (37%) 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 1% of their passengers using the airport to change aircraft.
• London City had the largest proportion of passengers travelling for business (54%). However this represents a 9 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%, whilst the airports with the highest proportion of leisure passengers were East Midlands 91%, and Bristol and Cardiff both with 86 per cent.
• Travellers from Heathrow took a higher proportion of trips (21%) lasting more than two weeks than anywhere else. In contrast, London City had the lowest proportion of the London airports at only 4%. Outside of London, the highest percentage of trips over two weeks was recorded at Manchester, with 13.4%. The lowest was at Cardiff at 5.2%.

Iain Osborne, Group Director of Regulatory Policy at the CAA, said:
“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.

“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.”

A summary of the Passenger Survey is available to download for free from the CAA website at www.caa.co.uk/surveys. More detailed results are available for purchase by emailing aviation.intelligence@caa.co.uk.

For further media information please contact the CAA Press Office on: 020 7453 6030 or press.office@caa.co.uk.

Follow the CAA on Twitter @UK_CAA

Notes to editors
1. The airports covered in the 2012 Air Passenger Survey results are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Exeter, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted,
2. In quarter 3 2012, compared to the same quarter in 2011, the London airports handled 0.9% fewer passengers, and regional airports saw a drop of 1.0%.
3. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.