London's Heathrow Airport registered its busiest September on record, handling an all time high of 438,608 passengers (+7.6%).
The UK gateway believes that its largest largest year-on-year monthly increase since July 2004 and an upturn in long-haul journeys provides hope of an improving international economy.
British foreign secretary, William Hague, last week pledged support for "giving our country the myriad of connections which will allow twenty-first century Britons to prosper and succeed", a comment welcomed by Heathrow and reflected in the resurgence of long-haul air travel.
Heathrow's Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) routes – to destinations not served from any other UK airport – saw significant growth compared with last September. Brazil rose 27.1% to 31,546 passengers, China rose 10.3% to 58,330 and Russia increased by 23.7% to 70,021. India fell by 0.3% to 178,607.
Travellers from Heathrow to North America increased by 6.5% (88,203) over last September to 1,442,193 with South America up 16.4% (6,769) to 47,973. The most popular routes were New York (241,746), Dubai (153,319) and Dublin (134,500).
European scheduled destinations from Heathrow continued to grow, increasing 11.7% (247,196) to 2,352,806. The most popular routes were to Heathrow's main competitors, which are all hub airports: Frankfurt (125,258 passengers), Amsterdam (123,808) and Paris (116,509).
The growth was also supported by the reinstatement of flights previously removed from schedules and consolidated due to the recession and encouraging signs that business people are travelling again, following disruption in the early part of the year, caused by poor weather and the volcanic ash cloud.
Across all of BAA's UK airports, 9,988,178 passengers travelled during September - up 3.3% (320,370) from 9,667,808 last year. Edinburgh rose 2.2% to 873,195 while Southampton remained level rising to 174,570 from 174,501.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, says: “Heathrow's record September figures underline that transport links are vital to our economy. The growth reflects an improved outlook for our airline customers and an increase in business confidence, as shown by cargo figures which continue to outperform the pre-recession peak.
“Our €1.6 billion-a-year investment programme continues, in order to offer our growing numbers of passengers a quicker, easier and more enjoyable travel experience. We have much still to do but are pleased to see a steady improvement in passenger perceptions of the airport."