UK air traffic projections: where has all the growth gone?

UK Government policy on the country’s aviation policy, and for London and the south-east in particular, has moved back into focus with the publication of the UK Department for Transport”s latest long-term Aviation Forecast.

The UK of course has been at the centre of the environment verusus economic growth debate over recent years, and the Coalition Government scrapped the previous government’s plans for an additional runway at Heathrow Airport last year.

But this, together with other factors such as the soon to be applied EU emissions trading scheme, rising oil prices and continued economic woes, has had a pretty dramatic impact on projected growth. In 2009 it was projecting 455 million passengers per annum going through UK airports by 2030. Now it is projecting 335 milliion passengers per annum by 2030 – that equates to knocking around a quarter of its forecast of just two years ago.

A number of factors are attached to this – read more on this here in this Financial Times article – but it does of course renew the debate about aviation growth in the UK.

Indeed the projections that London’s airports will be full by 2030 is prompting calls for action from within London’s local leadership – see this article in The Guardian for more on this.

None of this of course is news to the UK’s airline sector – indeed Willie Walsh, now heading BA parent International Airlines Group, has spent much of the last year explaining why the lack of room in London means the Madrid base of merger partner Iberia provides room for its growth ambitions. 

I’d expect the environment verusus economic growth debate regards aviation policy, especially if UK economic growth remains stifled, to run and run over the next few years. 

Anyway, if you are interested here are some key documents for further reading.


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