The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly brutal for many companies operating in the travel and tourism sectors.
This led the My Baggage team to go deeper and understand the real impact of the pandemic on the UK aviation industry. We looked at the UK’s 15 busiest airports in 2019 and compared the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data for 2019 and 2020 to measure the impact on UK airports.
With governments around the world restricting air travel, we found that the number of passengers using UK airports decreased by 75% overall in 2020, with some more affected than others.
The biggest drop was at London City Airport, where passenger numbers fell 82.3% from 5,122,000 in 2019 to just 908,105 in 2020.
Leeds Bradford Airport saw the second largest drop in passenger numbers, losing 81.2% of travelers with a drop from 3,992,000 in 2019 to just 751,048 in 2020.
We found that East Midlands Airport recorded the third largest passenger drop in percentage terms, down 80.7% from 4,674,000 users of the airport in 2019 compared to just 900,832 the previous year.
The UK’s largest airport, London Heathrow, recently posted a £ 2bn revenue loss. Our new study shows that passenger numbers fell by 72.7% in the two years from 80,887,000 to 22,109,550.
Gatwick saw an even larger percentage decrease in passenger numbers, down from 46,575,000 to 10,171,867, a decrease of 78.2%.
In Scotland, Glasgow Airport has been hardest hit. Passenger numbers fell from 8,843,000 in 2019 to just 1,944,981 in 2020, a decrease of 78%.
In Northern Ireland and closer to home, Belfast International saw passenger numbers fall 72.2% from 6,278,000 in 2019 to just 1,746,951 in 2020.
Here is a table with the full dates:
While the new study highlights the devastating economic impact of the pandemic on UK airports, the numbers are likely to be welcomed by environmental activists as CO2 emissions from aviation have dropped 60% over that period.
It’s worth noting that not all airports had the same impact. Some were definitely more affected than others as the number of travelers in some locations decreased by more than 80%.
And while these numbers are strong, they still don’t show the whole picture. Each of these airports is a regional hub employing thousands of workers. If passenger numbers drop by that extent, it will have a dramatic impact on many industries.
With the vaccination program already in full swing, everyone in the travel industry is hoping for a more positive second half of the year through 2021 and for the aviation industry to recover in the months and years to come.
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