UK flights soar 4.9 pct to record high in 2004
LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Flights in Britain rose 4.9 percent to record levels in 2004 as low-cost airlines expanded and more people flew on cheap fares, UK air traffic control said Friday.
The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said it handled 2.18 million flights in UK airspace during the year as transatlantic and domestic flights increased, as well as flights to and from Europe.
Budget travel has buoyed short-haul traffic from Europe, while routes across the Atlantic Ocean have recovered from a downturn following 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
NATS said average delays per flight attributable to air traffic control fell to 25 seconds in the period from 44 seconds in 2003 and 97.5 percent of flights had no delays.
"Despite record numbers of flights, NATS delivered its best performance in 2004 on record," NATS Chief Executive Paul Barron said in a statement.
NATS hopes to cut flight delays and safety incidents by 2007 to help restore confidence in the organisation which was hit by a financial crisis after a slump in transatlantic air travel after 2001.
The partly privatised body is implementing a 1 billion pound ($1.88 billion) investment plan to modernise Britain's air-traffic control system before European Union plans to form a single network of air-traffic control zones.
NATS earns the bulk of its revenues from transatlantic flights.
Transatlantic arrivals and departures rose 7.4 percent in 2004, domestic rose 4.4 percent and other arrival and departures rose 7.5 percent.
The strongest growth areas were in Scottish air space, where flights increased 7.9 percent, and Manchester with growth of 6.9 percent.
NATS is 49 percent owned by the British government, 42 percent by a consortium of UK airlines, 4 percent by airports operator BAA Plc and 5 percent by NATS staff.
National Air Traffic: 2.18M Flights Used UK Airspace
7 January 2005
LONDON (Dow Jones)--National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the UK air traffic management provider, said Friday that in December 2004, it handled 165,045 flights, an increase of 5.3% over the same period in 2003.
Figures show that in 2004 NATS handled more flights than ever with fewer delays.
A total of 2,180,206 flights used U.K. airspace in 2004, a new annual record and an increase of 4.9% on 2003.
Despite rising traffic levels, service delivery showed significant improvement, with the average delay, per flight, attributable to NATS in 2004, falling to 25 seconds, compared to 44 seconds in 2003, a reduction of 43%.
The number of flights that experienced delays attributable to NATS fell markedly. In 2004, 97.5% of flights experienced no air traffic control delay, up from 95.2% in 2003.
The London Area Control Centre (LACC) at Swanwick, Hampshire, which handled over 1.7 million flights through 200,000 square miles of airspace above England and Wales, recorded its best performance ever in the latter part of 2004.
For a period of 24 consecutive days, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 20, there were no delays to flights attributable to Swanwick and of the 133,000 flights handled in December, only 36 received a delay attributable to the centre.