Emerging markets boost Heathrow numbers to new high

Almost 75 million passengers travelled through Heathrow last year, establishing a new record for the west London airport.

Passengers at Heathrow airport

As the government hesitates over a recommendation that a third runway be built at Heathrow recommendation that a third runway be built at Heathrow – rather than Gatwick – to ease the capital's chronic airport capacity shortage, figures showed that passenger numbers were up 2.2 per cent on 2014 with emerging markets accounting for much of the rise.

Passenger numbers to and from China rose by 14 per cent, while Latin America accounted for an eight per cent rise and the Middle East a six per cent increase.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow chief executive, said, "2015 has been a banner year for Heathrow, serving more passengers than ever and being recognised in a number of awards as the best major airport in Europe for both passenger service and eco-innovation.

"The record levels of passenger satisfaction are due to a significant increase in training, apprenticeships and the number of frontline colleagues moving into management roles.

"Our new expansion plan will make Heathrow the most sustainable hub airport, and Britain the best connected country in the world. We are ready to serve."

Businesses have been severely critical of the government delays over increasing London's runway capacity. Originally, ministers had promised a final decision before the end of 2015 but have now put that back to next summer while it undertakes yet another review of environmental issues.

On Monday two Welsh MPs from opposite sides of the political divide joined the debate by telling the government that Heathrow was not only the best solution for the UK economy but was crucial for growth in Wales.

In a joint, online article in the Huffington Post, Craig Williams, Conservative MP for Cardiff North, and Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, wrote, "The next few months will show whether this government is prepared to show leadership and make the right decision on Heathrow.

"There is reason to be hopeful. Heathrow are confident that they can reassure us of their plans to deliver a new runway within environmental limits. It is vital that this is done as soon as possible.

"The government will now do the detailed work on Heathrow's environmental proposals and then – for the sake of Wales, and the whole of the UK – we urge them to take a firm and final decision to expand Heathrow.

"No other UK airport offers value to every nation and region of the UK. Which, incidentally, is also why it is the only UK airport which is full – and it has been for a decade now."

The MPs described the situation in Wales as "a great example" of why Heathrow had so much political and business support.

"With the best will in the world, Cardiff Airport is never going to have a direct connection to Caracas or Wuhan. In the UK, it is only Heathrow that has sufficient demand and the facilities to pool passengers to make these flights viable. It does this with connecting flights and extensive surface transport options from across the UK."

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