24 MAY 2010

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Article from BTNews 24 MAY 2010

COMMENT: Airport problems too

Passenger figures published by the Airports Council International (ACI) for 2009 make for fascinating reading and reflect very much on how the world is doing economically. www.airports.org

Atlanta remains the globe’s busiest airport in terms of throughput (88m – down 2.26%) and Heathrow climbs to second place (66m – down 1.5%) with Beijing coming from a long way back to take third (65m – plus 6.7%) and the one time, and for many years, leader Chicago in fourth position (64m – down 7.1% from the previous year.

The major European airports did not do well in 2009, Paris CDG declining 4.9% (58m), and Amsterdam and Frankfurt losing about the same in percentage terms with throughputs of 44m and 51m respectively. 

Besides Beijing the other airport with outstanding growth (9.2%) was Dubai, essentially a connecting hub, with 41m passengers.  The Bangkok number was much the same and with positive growth (4.9%) but 2010 is likely to be poor due to unrest in Thailand. 

The weakness of the US in economy/airline terms can easily be demonstrated with the major airports all losing passengers, Atlanta and Chicago are already mentioned but Los Angeles (56m – 5%), Dallas Fort Worth (56m – 1.9%), Denver (50m – 2.1%) and New York JFK (50m – 4%) all down.

It is a pity that ACI does not publish the figures for connecting traffic which would also make for interesting analysis.  Perhaps for next year?

On a positive note the statistics show the passenger load per aircraft, and here it is not surprising to learn that Hong Kong leads (261), followed by Tokyo Narita (260) and Dubai (258), all operationally very similar, widebodies the mainstay.  With the opening of a fourth runway later this year, and the transfer of some international flights from Narita, Haneda (255) could be the big winner in 2011.  

Heathrow had an average of 198 passengers per aircraft, easily the best in Europe.  Growth in this aspect of operations could push up its throughput figures by as much as 25%.  The trade off is the dropping of narrow bodied regional routes, and the consequences.

Finally one must look at the dominance of carriers at particular airports (including owned affiliates) and the competition aspects.  Delta has 41% of Atlanta, British Airways 43% of Heathrow, Air France 51% at CDG, Lufthansa 60% of Frankfurt, KLM 53% of Amsterdam and Emirates 50% at Dubai.

For most airports 2009 was a difficult year.  To date 2010 looks like being even more problematic.

MALCOLM GINSBERG
Editor in Chief

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