By Dominic Welling
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted all saw passenger numbers jump during April, as the disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud a year ago became increasingly apparent.
Heathrow Airport had its busiest ever April in terms of traffic, with 5.8 million passengers passing through the gateway during the month.
This was up 31.5% on April last year when the volcanic ash cloud closed the airport for a number of days.
Meanwhile, cargo traffic at the airport also experienced the busiest April on record, with the airport handling 122,000 tonnes of freight over the period, up 21.1% on last year.
Likewise, Gatwick Airport saw passenger numbers soar by more than a third (34.2%) during April 2011.
An additional 702,500 passengers travelled through Gatwick last month – a year on from the disruption caused by Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which saw the airport close for six days and 600,000 people who did not travel.
Meanwhile, Stansted saw passenger number also increase by 26.2% compared with April 2010, mainly down to the same reasons.
However, the year-on-year increases in passenger traffic at these London airports was also driven by people taking advantage of the Easter holidays, which all happened to fall in April this year, to get abroad.
In addition, the extra bank holiday thanks to the Royal Wedding would have
had an impact in traffic.
Furthermore extra route developments over the past year at the different airports would have boosted passenger numbers as well.
For example, a spokesman at Gatwick says: “Contributing to growth this month were services to European scheduled markets which came on line on 16 April 2011.
“Norwegian launched its twice weekly service to Alesund, Norway and EasyJet added Seville to its route portfolio, flying four times a week to the Andalucian capital.”