SCOTTISH TRANSPORT STATISTICS No 24: 2005 Edition

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CHAPTER 9 AIR TRANSPORT

1. Introduction

1.1 This chapter provides information on air transport, such as passenger numbers by origin, destination, and type of service, flight punctuality, amount of freight carried, air transport movements, and income and expenditure figures of airline authorities.

1.2 The main changes in this edition are the inclusion of two new tables:

  • 9.3(b) Scheduled International passenger traffic to/from the main Scottish International airports.
  • 9.16 Passengers on services which were supported, in that year, by the Route Development Fund.

In addition, the figures in Table 9.2 for 2002 onwards have been revised, to include non-paying passengers, for consistency with other tables, and Table 9.3 has been revised to reflect the new membership of the EU.

2. Main Points

2.1 There were 22.6 million air terminal passengers in 2004, about 1.5 million (7%) more than in the previous year. Over the ten years from 1994 to 2004, terminal passengers have increased by 91%. ( Table 9.1)

2.2 There were about 8.6 million terminal passengers at Glasgow airport in 2004, a 5% increase on the previous year, Edinburgh airport had around 8.0 million (up 7%), Aberdeen had just over 2.6 million, (up 5%) and Glasgow Prestwick had almost 2.2 million (up 16%). Together these four airports accounted for 95% of the total. Over the past ten years, the increases at these airports were: Edinburgh 167%; Glasgow 57%; and Aberdeen 25%; Glasgow Prestwick's numbers have increased many times over, having been 135,000 ten years ago. ( Table 9.1)

2.3 In 2004, London Heathrow accounted for 38% of passengers on selected domestic routes to and from Aberdeen, 29% for Edinburgh and 34% of the total for Glasgow. 80% of the domestic passengers using Glasgow Prestwick were travelling to/from Stansted. London Gatwick had 49% of the domestic passengers to/from Inverness. Other domestic routes with large passenger numbers included those between Edinburgh and Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Belfast, and between Glasgow and Luton, Belfast, Stansted and Gatwick: routes which show large increases in patronage over the past ten years. (It should be noted that the table does not cover all domestic routes - it excludes some of the smaller domestic routes.) ( Table 9.2)

2.4 The most popular country of origin/destination for passengers flying directly to and from Scottish airports was Spain (excluding the Canary Islands) with almost 1.7 million passenger journeys in 2004, roughly 21% of all passengers on direct flights abroad. Other popular origins/destinations were the Netherlands (just over 1.0 million passengers), the Irish Republic (1.0 million) and the Canary Islands (0.7 million passengers). In each case, the number of passengers is considerably greater than five or ten years earlier. ( Table 9.3)

2.5 The majority of passengers to/from Spain and the Canary Islands took charter flights, whereas almost all those who travelled to/from the Irish Republic or the Netherlands used scheduled flights. ( Table 9.4)

2.6 The most popular international airports (those with the largest numbers of passenger journeys for flights directly to and from Scotland's main airports in 2004) were Amsterdam with over 1.0 million passengers and Dublin with over 0.8 million passengers. ( Table 9.5)

2.7 In 2004, 5% of all terminal passenger traffic was to/from other Scottish airports, 57% was to/from other parts of the UK, and 28% was between Scotland and mainland Europe, of which around half was to/from Glasgow Airport. ( Table 9.6)

2.8 In 2004, the overall average delay was 14 minutes for flights to or from both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. ( Section 3.6 describes the basis for these figures.) Around 12% of flights to or from both airports were delayed by more than 30 minutes. ( Table 9.8)

2.9 The total number of aircraft movements in 2004 was about 514,000. Edinburgh had the highest number of aircraft movements with around 125,000, of which 94% were commercial movements, and aircraft movements at both Glasgow and Aberdeen in 2004 were about 108,000 and 99,000 respectively. ( Table 9.9)

2.10 Air freight carried in 2004 rose by 1,121 tonnes over the previous year to 77,572 tonnes. Freight at Edinburgh increased by 2,615 tonnes to 27,376 tonnes. There was a 15% decrease at Glasgow Prestwick, to 34,102 tonnes. Freight through Glasgow rose by 65% to 8,122 tonnes. ( Table 9.13)

2.11 BAA's operating profit for the three main airports (Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow) decreased by £2.5 million on the previous year to £52.9 million. The operating profit in 2003-04 at Glasgow was £21.5 million, at Edinburgh £22.9 million, and at Aberdeen £8.7 million. Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd recorded a loss of £713,000 for 2003-04. ( Tables 9.14 & 9.15)

2.12 There was a total of over 820,000 passengers on services which were supported by the Route Development Fund in the 2004-05 financial year, of which the largest numbers were for Glasgow/Dubai (142,000), Glasgow Prestwick/Girona (97,000) and Glasgow Prestwick/Milan(Bergamo) (92,000). ( Table 9.16)

3. Notes and Definitions

3.1 Aircraft Movement: an aircraft take-off or landing at an airport: one arrival and one departure are counted as two movements. Air transport movements are landings or take-offs of aircraft engaged in the transport of passengers or cargo on commercial terms. All scheduled service movements, whether loaded, empty or positioning; and charter movements transporting passengers or cargo and air taxi movements are included.

3.2 Terminal Passenger: a passenger joining or leaving an aircraft at the reporting airport, excluding passengers carried on air taxi charter services. A passenger travelling between two reporting airports is counted twice, once at each airport. A Transit passenger is one who arrives at and departs from a reporting airport on the same aircraft which is transiting the airport. Each transit passenger is counted once only.

3.3 Freight: the weight of property carried out on an aircraft including, for example the weight of vehicles, excess baggage, and diplomatic bags, but excluding mail and passengers' and crews' permitted luggage. Freight carried on air taxi services and in transit through the airport on the same aircraft is excluded.

3.4 International Services: services flown between the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and places outside.

3.5 International and Domestic Destinations: the figures in Tables 9.2 to 9.7 are based on the origin and destination of passengers as reported to UK airport authorities by UK and foreign airlines. Operators are required to report in respect of each service operated, the point of uplift and discharge of each passenger. The figures may not reflect a passenger's entire air journey: the point at which a passenger disembarks from a particular service may not represent his ultimate destination. In some cases the actual point of uplift or discharge is not recorded. In such cases all passengers are allocated to the end point of the service, i.e. the aircraft's origin or ultimate destination. The figures include all passengers carried on scheduled and chartered services excluding those charter passengers carried on air taxi service and passengers carried on aircraft chartered by Government Departments. In Tables 9.3 and 9.4, international traffic figures are given for each country for which scheduled traffic was reported. In cases where charter only routes carried less than 5,000 passengers, the countries concerned do not appear in Table 9.3, and are shown under "Other international traffic …" in Table 9.4.

3.6 Air punctuality statistics:

3.6.1 These statistics cover both arrivals and departures. They relate solely to punctuality at the specified airport. For example, the information which is used about flights from Edinburgh relates only to the punctuality of their departure, so the statistics take no account of any subsequent delays before landing at, say, London. Similarly, the information which is used about arrivals at Edinburgh relates only to the time of arrival (no allowance is made for whether or not the flight departed on time from the airport of origin).

3.6.2 The calculations cover those flights for which information about the planned and the actual times of operation has been matched - for example, cancelled flights, and flights which are diverted to or from another airport, are excluded (the numbers of such flights are included in the figures which are given for "unmatched" flights).

3.6.3 The percentages "early to 15 minutes late" would probably be lower, and the average delays would probably be higher, if these statistics were calculated in the same way as the rail punctuality statistics (the latter are based on the time of arrival at the destination, and take account of cancellations).

3.6.4 "All cargo" and "air taxi" services are excluded.

3.6.5 Unmatched actual flights are air transport movements which actually took place at the airport, but for which no corresponding planned flight was found. There may be a number of reasons for this, such as:

  • the flight was a diversion from another airport;
  • the flight was a short-haul flight more than one hour before the planned time;
  • the flight was planned to take place in the previous month;
  • errors in, or omissions from, the records of Airport Coordination Ltd ( ACL) or the airport.

3.6.6 Unmatched planned flights are those which were reported in data supplied by ACL, but for which no corresponding air transport movement return has been found. There may be a number of reasons for this, such as:

  • the flight was diverted to another airport;
  • the flight was cancelled;
  • the planned time was for a short-haul flight more than one hour after the flight;
  • the flight took place in the following month;
  • errors in, or omissions from, the records of ACL or the airport.

3.6.7 Average delays: the averages relate to all flights - not just to the ones which were delayed. With effect from January 2000, flights which are early are counted as "zero delay"; prior to that they were counted as a "negative delay". As a result, the average delays for 2000 onwards are not directly comparable with the figures for 1999 and earlier years. This accounts for the whole of the apparent increase in the averages for Glasgow for 2000: when the Civil Aviation Authority ( CAA) recalculated the averages for 1999 on the current basis, it found that they would be two minutes more than when calculated on the original basis. A similar recalculation using the data for Edinburgh for 1999 suggested that the change had no effect on its averages, when these were rounded to the nearest whole minute.

3.6.8 Taxi-ing time: the CAA changed its assumption for the taxi-ing time for Edinburgh airport departures from 5 minutes to 10 minutes with effect from the start of 2001. As a result, the "punctuality" and "average delay" figures for Edinburgh for 2001 onwards are not on the same basis as the figures for 2000 and earlier years. However, when the CAA recalculated the figures for Edinburgh for 2000 on the current basis, it appeared that this change did not affect on the averages or the percentage "early or within 15 minutes", when these were rounded to the nearest whole number.

3.7 Route Development Fund

3.7.1 The purpose of the Route Development Fund ( RDF) is to invest in developing routes which secure the greatest economic return for Scotland. The RDF is available for the development of new direct routes which improve business links and encourage inward tourism. While most of the fund is administered by Scottish Enterprise, part is allocated to Highlands and Islands Airports Limited and administered separately, with the involvement of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and other bodies.

3.7.2 The RDF concentrates on routes which have high business and in-bound tourism potential. It may be used to develop key UK domestic services as well as European and intercontinental links. The aim is to support the development of new services which have a frequency of at least five return trips per week, which operate all year round, and which would not go ahead without RDF investment. Outside Scotland's central belt airports, where there is a more limited market, the criteria are more flexible. For example, international services from the more peripheral airports can be seasonal with a more limited frequency.

3.7.3 The figures appearing for a particular route for a given year in Table 9.16 cover only passengers on those services on that route which were supported by the RDF in that year. Therefore, Table 9.16 may not provide the overall total number of passengers on that route in that year. For example, there may have been other services on that route in that year which were not supported by the RDF (perhaps because they were already existing "seasonal" services - e.g. operating only in the summer). Or, the RDF may have supported services on that route for only one financial year, in which case the table will not show any passenger numbers for the next year because there were no services which were supported by the RDF in that later year. As a result, the table has blank entries for some routes for the later years.

3.7.4 The figures in Table 9.16 are for financial years, unlike the figures in the earlier tables of passenger numbers which relate to calendar years. The reason for this difference is that RDF support is provided for financial years - and, in some cases, for only one financial year. Therefore, it is more appropriate to show the number of passengers on services on a particular route which were supported by the RDF in, say, 2003-04 as a single number for the 2003-04 financial year than to show separate numbers for 2003 and 2004. Because of this difference, and because Table 9.16 covers only passengers on services which were supported by the RDFin that year, users of Table 9.16 should be very cautious about drawing any conclusions from any comparison of its figures with those in the other tables in this chapter.

4. Sources

4.1 Tables 9.1 to 9.13 are compiled from information supplied by the Civil Aviation Authority ( CAA).

4.2 Air punctuality statistics

4.2.1 These statistics are prepared by the CAA with the co-operation of the airport operators and Airport Coordination Ltd ( ACL). They are produced for Edinburgh, Glasgow and some other UK airports. The first year for which information is available varies from airport to airport: for example, figures for Edinburgh are only available from April 1996, so it is not possible to provide figures for Edinburgh for 1996 as a whole, or for any earlier years.

4.2.2 The actual times of flights' wheels on/off the runway are derived from flight air transport movement returns made by airports to the CAA. The planned times, which relate to arrival/departure from the stand, and include changes made up to 24 hours beforehand, are supplied by ACL. The CAA also uses assumptions about taxi-ing time - currently these are:

  • Edinburgh: arrivals - 5 minutes; departures - 10 minutes;
  • Glasgow: arrivals - 5 minutes; departures - 10 minutes.

The CAA matches the two sets of data and resolves any obvious mismatches. For example, if an airline appears to operate a series of flights significantly "off slot", the CAA will substitute information from published timetables, where these are available, in place of the ACL slot. The statistics are then calculated from the information for those flights for which the data have been matched - so cancelled flights, and flights which are diverted to or from another airport, are excluded from the calculations.

4.3 Table 9.14 was compiled by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd.

4.4 Table 9.15 was compiled from information supplied by BAA Scottish Airports Ltd.

4.5 Table 9.16 was prepared using figures supplied by the Scottish Executive Aviation Policy branch, which were based on information which is publicly available from the Civil Aviation Authority. (In some cases, the Aviation Policy branch rounded the numbers to, say, the nearest 100 passengers.)

5. Further Information

5.1 Further information on UK civil aviation is available from the Civil Aviation Authority's regular publications, from Mrs D McLean of the CAA Data Unit (tel: 0207 453 6258 or e-mail aduoutput@caaerg.org.uk ), and from the CAA Economic Regulation Group's website: www.caaerg.co.uk . For example, the CAA website has detailed tables of punctuality statistics, which give figures separately for each operator on each route, for each month and for each year as a whole, for Edinburgh, Glasgow and some other UK airports.

5.2 Further information on Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd is available from Norman Ross on 01667 462445.

5.3 Further information on BAA financial figures are available from Deirdre Fulton of the BAA (tel: 0141 848 4599).

5.4 Further information about the Route Development Fund can be obtained from Grace McGuire of the Scottish Executive Aviation Policy branch (tel: 0131 244 0854)