July 11, 2008

Video Killed the Passenger Numbers

By Jane Bradley

PASSENGER numbers at Scotland's three biggest airports dipped last month as business travellers cut back on domestic flights - opting for video-conferencing instead.

Airport operator BAA, which runs Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports, said carriers cut capacity amid falling demand and consolidation in the charter flight market.

The number of travellers using charter flights slumped by 10.4 per cent over the month at Glasgow, hitting overall passenger figures, which dropped 4.9 per cent to 826,905.

Total passenger traffic across the three airports slipped 1.8 per cent, compared with a year earlier, with only Edinburgh bucking the trend to report 1.5 per cent growth.

The latest figures from BAA showed that a total of 1.98 million people flew via Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in June.

Glasgow Airport experienced the greatest fall over the month, while Aberdeen suffered a downturn of 1.9 per cent. International scheduled traffic grew by 5.1 per cent. Edinburgh recorded its busiest ever June with 859,382 passengers.

BAA spokesman Donald Morrison said: "A whole range of factors are behind the [overall] drop in passenger numbers. Airlines have been reducing capacity because of a reduction in demand, and increasing use of video conferencing technology rather than taking flights to meetings has definitely been an impact of the credit crunch as companies cut down on business travel."

He said British Airways had recently announced it was to axe its early morning "red eye" flight from Glasgow to London.

Deals in the charter flight sector have included the merger Thomas Cook and My Travel a year ago. The number of charter seats for sale in Scotland in June was 6 per cent lower than the previous year.

Morrison added that Edinburgh's increase was largely a result of the city's strong performance as a tourism base, as well as a strong business community.

In the year to June, BAA Scotland's three airports handled more than 21 million passengers, a rise of 0.6 per cent on the previous 12 months.

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