Record year for Heathrow

The number of passengers passing through Heathrow reached almost 70m in 2012, making it the busiest year ever for the airport.

The number of passengers passing through Heathrow reached almost 70m in 2012, making it the busiest year ever for the airport.

The total figure was an increase of 0.9% compared with 2011.

The airport also posted a record month in December, with 5.6m passengers coming through Heathrow's doors, up 2.0% on the previous year.

However, this contrasted with cargo, which was down 1.3% for the year as a whole and down 3.5% on December 2011.

"The figures for 2012 show Heathrow is delivering higher passenger numbers despite a tough economic climate," said chief executive Colin Matthews.

"At the same time, passenger satisfaction levels reached record levels."

The 2012 performance was led by North Atlantic traffic, which increased 3.2%.

More flights saw passengers numbers to Brazil up 21.6%, while the Middle East and central Asian traffic was up 3.4%, partly due to a recovery from the unrest in the region.

East Asia was also up 6.2%, although this figures benefitted from a recovery following 2011's Japanese tsunami.

There was weakness in African and Indian traffic, down 5.7% and 3.4% respectively, due to airlines reducing or stopping services.

Heathrow's European traffic increased modestly, up 0.5%, but economic conditions meant significant variations between traffic to different countries.

Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain saw a collective passenger reduction of 4.5% over the course of 2012.

Greece experienced the largest reduction ( down 7.3%) followed by Italy (down 6.8%).

In contrast, Germany's traffic increased by 2.3% and France's traffic rose by 0.6%.

Domestic traffic was up slightly, by 0.5%..

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