Air Transport in The United Kingdom - 21st Century - Airports

Airports

Although the number of airports in the UK runs into hundreds, many are smaller aerodromes dealing with general aviation rather than air transport. In terms of the latter, statistics are collected from 59 main airports, and the largest concentration of services is located in the London and South East of England areas. Heathrow is the largest airport in the country, handling over 67 million terminal passengers in 2006, making it the third busiest airport in the world, and the busiest if measured by the number of international passengers. Nearly a third of all overseas residents visiting the UK enter the country via this airport, which also handles more than a fifth of all overseas visits by UK residents. Heathrow is also a cargo gateway and usually has up to 20 dedicated cargo aircraft using its facilities every day. The largest of which is DHL who also lease cargo aircraft to British Airways for weekend operations. Gatwick airport, with 34 million terminal passengers, is the second largest in the country, eighth busiest in the world and lays claim to the busiest single runway airport in the world. Between them the five London airports handle nearly 137 million terminal passengers, 59 per cent of the national total. As far as dedicated cargo services are concerned, Stansted and East Midlands airports have both experienced large growth in freight handling over the past decade, and these two airports are the major hubs for express freight operations. Outside of London and the South East, the use of regional airports has increased dramatically in recent years, with the amount of air traffic using these facilities doubling in the period 1995 to 2005. To illustrate this growth, in the five years from 2001 passenger numbers at the regional airports of Exeter International Airport, Bristol Airport, and Newcastle Airport increased by 191 per cent, 113 per cent, and 60 per cent respectively. In the same period the largest airports experienced some of the slowest growth, with Heathrow passenger numbers increasing by 11 per cent, and those of Gatwick increasing by less than 10 per cent.

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