Friday, September 12, 2008

Scottish Air Travel Market - It's Getting A Lot Worse

The BAA's results for September are out and they don't make pretty reading, but then again that's far from surprising. Overall in the UK passenger numbers are down by 1.7%; that equates to over a quarter of a million passengers. For Scotland's two main airports the results are much worse; in August there were 50,000 fewer passengers flying through Glasgow and Edinburgh. In fact it looks like the number of passengers using both airports this year will decline by between 450,000 and 500,000 people. Passenger numbers have declined for eight of the last twelve months from the two airports. In fact both Edinburgh and Glasgow could show a reduction in their total number of passengers this year - Glasgow definitely will. Because of the summer bookings being made well before the credit crunch took hold there has been something of a cushion effect on traffic; over the winter there will be no such cushion.

Of course the most worrying trend is that how much faster traffic is falling to and from Scottish airports than it is from the other UK airports. As consumer buying power continues to get squeezed this trend could get significantly worse. My money is still on Ryanair introducing a much reduced set of new services come November. These are the ones that have already been delayed from a late September start-up - supposedly because of new aircraft deliveries being held up by a strike at Boeing that started a couple of days before their announcement. In the airline business November is a traditionally dire month to start any new Northern hemisphere services. Even if they do start up there will be some blood-letting as the carriers fight for traffic; six of the eleven new Ryanair routes already have existing service from other airlines.

UPDATE – The news this morning of XL will only make things worse.

Further UPDATE – If you want to know why there are problems in the airline business just check this out.


Wolfie said...

Lets face it, a slowdown in the airline industry is probably a good thing as there has been robust expansion for some time which has put a lot of pressure of infrastructure and the environment.

London is a continual roar of jet and helicopter engines and it has become a serious detriment to the quality of life even miles across town from the airport.

Bill said...

Agreed (Wolfie). The perpetual growth predicitions put forward to support expansion plans are beginning to look a bit threadbare.

Plus, it would seem that some of the decline in domestic travel has been taken up by rail services. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Joe Curry said...

Edinburgh is currently recording a 12 monthly increase in excess of 200.000
Glasgow's totals being a few hundred thousand down.

Richard Havers said...

Joe, like all statistics it depends how you view them. My point was based on 2008 vs 2007. So far, for the first eight months of the year, traffic is down at Glasgow by 268,000 and Edinburgh is up by 75,000 - these are the BAA's own figures. For the past two months Edinburgh has showed a drop in passengers against 2007. My predictions are based on these numbers. In the airline/airport game recent results are what count and while the figures would like better on a twelve month to last twelve month basis they would still be way, way below the BAA's predictions for growth at edinburgh in particular. The fact is Scotland's air travel market is in a bit of a mess right now.

Wolfie and Bill, my long held point exactly!