CAA publishes 2007 air passenger survey

Date: 13 October 2008

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today publishing results from the 2007 Air Passenger Survey, which questioned over 210,000 departing air passengers at the four London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton) as well as at Doncaster Sheffield, Humberside, Liverpool and Manchester airports about their travel patterns.

In 2007, 137 million passengers (56 per cent of the total 241 million) used one of the four London airports surveyed. 28 per cent of passengers travelled from Heathrow, the same as 2006. Gatwick, Stansted and Luton also retained their respective 14, ten and four per cent share of UK passengers.

The sampled regional airports had a combined throughput of 29 million passengers in 2007 (12 per cent of total UK passengers). Manchester’s passengers made up nine per cent of the UK total, whilst Liverpool’s contributed just over two per cent and Doncaster Sheffield and Humberside each accounted for less than half of one per cent.

Sample results from the 2007 survey:

Business passengers accounted for 36 per cent of all passengers using Heathrow, the highest proportion recorded in the survey. This compared with 24 per cent at Humberside, 21 per cent at Luton, and 19 per cent at Stansted.

Business passengers using Heathrow had the highest average individual income at £83,000, compared with £69,000 at Luton, £66,000 at Manchester, £64,000 at Gatwick and £40,000 at Humberside.

Doncaster Sheffield attracted the largest proportion of leisure passengers at 94 per cent, compared with 89 per cent at Liverpool, 82 per cent at Gatwick, 81 per cent at Stansted and 64 per cent at Heathrow.

The total household income of leisure passengers at Liverpool was, on average, around £45,000 per annum, similar to that recorded at Gatwick and Manchester but considerably less than the £59,000 recorded at Heathrow.

Passengers travelling to visit friends and relatives made up 46 per cent of Stansted’s total and 43 per cent of each of Luton’s and Liverpool’s. At Heathrow, the proportion was 32 per cent, at Manchester and Doncaster Sheffield 22 per cent, and at Humberside 10 per cent.

The highest recorded proportion of women passengers was 51 per cent at Doncaster Sheffield, followed by Stansted and Liverpool, both at 48 per cent. Heathrow and Manchester both recorded 46 per cent, whilst Humberside had the lowest proportion at 42 per cent.

The proportion of passengers changing planes was significantly smaller at the regional airports surveyed, with less than one per cent of passengers changing planes at Doncaster Sheffield and Humberside. This compared with around 34 per cent at Heathrow, 12 per cent at Gatwick, eight per cent at Stansted, four per cent at Luton, three per cent at Manchester and two per cent at Liverpool.

Public transport usage was significantly higher at the London airports – Stansted (45 per cent), Heathrow (38 per cent), Gatwick (35 per cent) and Luton (30 percent) – than at the regional airports – Liverpool (14 per cent), Manchester (11 per cent), Doncaster Sheffield (7 per cent) and Humberside (1 per cent).

The highest proportion of non-UK residents using a UK airport was recorded at Heathrow at 55 per cent, with the lowest at Humberside (four per cent). At Stansted it was 39 per cent, Liverpool 29 per cent, and Manchester 16 per cent.

Humberside Airport had the highest proportion of passengers travelling on inclusive tour packages at 59 per cent, followed by 37 per cent at Manchester, 35 per cent at Doncaster Sheffield and 29 per cent at Gatwick. Only five per cent of Stansted’s passengers were travelling on inclusive tour packages, seven per cent of Luton’s, eight per cent of Liverpool’s and 11 per cent of Heathrow’s.

The average age of passengers at the surveyed airports ranged from 47 years at Doncaster Sheffield and Humberside to 39 at Liverpool and Stansted; the average age at Gatwick was 42 years.

Heathrow, at 66 per cent, had the highest proportion of passengers travelling alone, due in part to its high proportion of business travellers. This compares with 60 per cent at Stansted, 42 per cent at Gatwick, 34 per cent at Humberside and 24 per cent at Doncaster Sheffield. Liverpool, at 30 per cent, had the highest proportion of passengers travelling in groups of more than two, and the lowest proportion, 10 per cent, was recorded at Luton.

Background to the 2007 Survey:

The 2007 Passenger Survey forms part of a series of passenger surveys which began in 1968, and sits alongside continuous surveys that have been undertaken by the CAA in London and Manchester since 1996.

This is the first time that Doncaster Sheffield Airport has been part of the survey.

Although detailed results are only available to survey sponsors, a summary report is available to download for free from the CAA website.

For further information, journalists should contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030.

Notes to editors:

Survey information is derived from the systematic random interviews of departing air passengers. Further detail on methodology is available on the Aviation Intelligence website or on request.

The 2007 survey forms part of a series, which began in 1968. Its purpose is to collect information that will help aviation stakeholders, including airline and airport operators, to understand better the characteristics of air travel to and from the United Kingdom.

Of the eight airports included in this project, surveys are conducted on an annual basis at Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted. Liverpool airport was last surveyed by the CAA in 2003, and Humberside was last surveyed in 1999. Doncaster Sheffield was surveyed for the first time in 2007.

Air passengers were interviewed at the eight UK airports listed above: at the four London airports and Manchester between January 2007 and December 2007; and at the other three regional airports between February 2007 and January 2008.

The information contained in this report has been compiled from interviews with departing air passengers. While it is not possible for CAA to verify each piece of information offered by each passenger, every effort is made to check the validity of responses in an effort to improve overall data integrity. Consequently, the CAA cannot accept liability for any financial loss caused by any person's reliance on it.

Detailed analysis of the results of this survey can be commissioned from the CAA by emailing In addition to this service, a high level summary report can be downloaded for free from the CAA website (

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 from an economic standpoint.