Airport problems boost ferry numbers

SECURITY scares and luggage problems at UK airports are giving ferry operators - including Stena line operating from Harwich - a bumper summer it was confirmed today.

SECURITY scares and luggage problems at UK airports are giving ferry operators - including Stena line operating from Harwich - a bumper summer it was confirmed today.

However airport operator BAA insisted there had been no drop in passenger numbers passing through Stansted - and is predicting its busiest day ever next Friday, just before the bank holiday weekend.

Ferry operators said today that security scares that had hit airports across the country, coupled with reports about luggage going astray, had prompted many holidaymakers to abandon flights and take the ferry instead.

Paul Newbiggin of Stena Line in Harwich said it was difficult to judge exactly what effect the flight problems were having this year - but passenger numbers were running well ahead of budget.

He said: “This is a bit of an untypical year for us because the HSS Discovery came out of service in January and we now have the two large conventional ferries operating instead.

“That makes a year-on-year comparison difficult, but we are finding our passenger numbers are running well ahead of budget.”

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Mr Newbiggin said many regular HSS passengers continued to use the daytime sailings - and the overnight trips were also very popular with people who wanted extra days for their holiday.

However he denied that the HSS Discovery had been withdrawn too early: “It was very expensive to operate and our new high quality ferries are proving very popular.”

A spokesman for BAA Stansted said passenger numbers had not been hit by this year's controversies.

He said: “We are still seeing passenger numbers increasing and the average queue at check-ins is only about five minutes.

“The problem with lost luggage is really something for BA, and they do not fly from Stansted.

The Friday before the August bank holiday is usually the busiest day of the year at the airport.

The spokesman added: “This year we are expecting record numbers on that day.”

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