News Item

UK air traffic up in 2013

UK air traffic rose slightly in 2013 compared with 2012, despite European strike action and bad weather.

NATS handled 2,153,995 flights in 2013 - a rise of 0.4% - in spite of external problems causing delays and flight cancellations. But figures are still well below peak numbers in 2007, when air traffic was almost 13% higher than in 2013.

Considering all flights handled in UK airspace, the best performing segment during 2013 was ‘Non-Transatlantic Overflights’ - up 2.5%. In contrast, the worst performing segment, ‘Domestic’ saw a 2.5% decline.

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) traffic in 2013 rose significantly in Scotland, with Aberdeen seeing growth of 5.7% and Glasgow a rise of 3.2%. But IFR traffic declined in other areas, such as Cardiff, down 7.7% and Bristol, down 7.3%.

Technical issues at Swanwick on 7 December 2013, coupled with bad weather in early December and at Christmas, severely impacted flights during the month. NATS-attributable delays saw an increase in average delay to 89.3 minutes per delayed flight in December, compared with 20.1 minutes in 2012.

But NATS handled 152,340 flights during December - a rise of 2.1% compared with December 2012.

However, the overall NATS average delay for the UK for 2013 was just ~5 seconds per flight - the European average for the same period was ~25 seconds delay per flight.

NATS' MD Operations comments:
'We have successfully managed the slight increase in air traffic this year, keeping safety as our number one priority. A total of 2,153,995 movements were handled by NATS, signifying growth, and we’re looking forward to supporting an even busier and more successful 2014.'

Details from NATS below . .

  • 22 January 2014
  • RIN

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