Flights to UK airports fall

FLIGHTS in and out of the UK's biggest airports are down by ten per cent, new figures reveal.

FLIGHTS in and out of the UK's biggest airports are down by ten per cent, new figures reveal.

It means there are less noisy passenger jet planes flying over Suffolk at present - but campaigners say the drop is only temporary.

They fully expect the numbers to pick up again by next spring and to grow even faster in the years ahead with plans for expansion at Stansted and Heathrow, as well as other regional airports whose planes overfly the county.

Air management company NATS is preparing for the huge growth expected with proposals for changes to flightpaths which will send planes over communities which have not experienced air traffic trouble before.

Cuts in winter services, air companies suffering difficulties and the economic downturn with less people flying have been blamed for the drop in flights.

NATS' latest figures for November show a ten pc drop compared with last year - the fifth month in a row flight numbers have decreased.

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“All centres and airports where NATS provides a service saw a reduction in traffic this month with the domestic market down by 13.5 per cent, transatlantic arrivals and departures by 10.3 per cent and other arrivals and departures by 9.5 per cent,” said a company spokesman.

“Figures show a total of 169,539 flights, against 188,015 in 2007 - a reduction of 9.8 per cent.”

BAA's seven UK airports handled 8.9pc fewer passengers during November compared to the same month the previous year with around 200,000 less people flying every month.

Passenger traffic was down 13pc at both Gatwick and Stansted, and air cargo tonnage is also down.

Some airlines have grounded planes for the winter because it is the less busy time of the year for people to get away.

Ryanair, one of Stansted's busiest airlines, launched eight new routes in the autumn - to Malaga, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Madrid, Tenerife, Katowice, Bologna and Zweibrucken - and offered one million �1 seats for travel in November, December and January and says bookings are currently up and encouraging.

Campaigners are waiting for NATS' revised proposals for changes to flightpaths, including new holds for Stansted - new stacking areas between Hadleigh and Stowmarket and near Newmarket - which it is feared will ruin the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.

Will the recession make people think twice before flying in future - or will they go back to their old ways once the economy picks up? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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