UK air navigation service NATS reports that January 2011 saw "the first significant monthly increase" in the number of flights handled since the onset of the global economic downturn.
The number of flights handled by NATS rose 4.6% compared with the same month in 2010. Disruption caused by heavy snow in January 2010 meant figures for that month were depressed, but after stripping out the weather factor NATS says that underlying growth would still have been between 1% and 2%.
October 2010's figures had shown the first increase in traffic since figures started declining in June 2008, but that rise was under 1%.
NATS says all its centres and markets posted positive figures, with the exception of 'other overflights' (aircraft flying through UK airspace from Asia and Europe to and from Ireland), which declined by 1.3%. This is likely to have been a side-effect of the severe economic problems gripping Ireland.
Among the UK airports where NATS provides air traffic control services, the largest rises in numbers of aircraft handled were recorded at Aberdeen (10.5%), Glasgow (10.3%) and Gatwick (9.1%).
Rises were also recorded for transatlantic arrivals and departures (5.6%), London Terminal Control (4.9%) and the Shanwick Oceanic Area Control Centre (4.3%).