Numbers of people flying is slowing

AIR chiefs say the growth in the number of people flying has slowed down dramatically.New statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority show that last year UK airports handled 241 million passengers - an increase of just 2.

AIR chiefs say the growth in the number of people flying has slowed down dramatically.

New statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority show that last year UK airports handled 241 million passengers - an increase of just 2.4 per cent on 2006, with growth in numbers at their lowest for a decade.

Since the 1970s, annual growth had been six pc a year.

Experts say there are several reasons why people are thinking twice about flying - with less money in their pockets to spend on holidays being the main one.


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Better rail services are also having an impact on how people travel, with more people taking to the train for trips around Britain. Use of domestic flights fell by 1.9pc last year.

Despite the slow down, the air industry is still determined to press ahead with its expansion with more cheap flights and plans to expand airports, particularly Stansted and Heathrow.

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Currently around 1,200 jet planes fly over Suffolk every day - causing growing frustration over noise and concern over pollution.

Government believes doubling air travel over the next 20 years will boost the economy, but that will simply mean more passenger planes flying over Suffolk.

Expert Dr Harry Bush said: “The CAA's analysis shows the impact on passenger air travel of recent slowing of consumer expenditure, but also indicates a significant impact from the recovery of rail travel and from the increasing internationalisation of the UK economy, with the consequent growth in air travel to visit family members or friends in other countries.

“Looking to the longer term, demographic changes and ownership of homes abroad are also likely to buttress air travel demand, although relatively small changes in frequency of leisure travel between mid and higher levels of income suggest demand growth is constrained to some extent by factors other than income, such as availability of leisure time.”

The CAA said during 2007, landings and take-offs of commercial aircraft at UK airports grew by 1.8pc to 2.5 million.

At the London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City - the increase was 2.6pc, bolstered by increases of 16pc at London City and 6pc at Luton.

A CAA spokesman said: “More regional airports are developing a greater range of services and there are now nine airports handling more than five million passengers each a year, together accounting for nearly one third of all UK passengers, while a further nine airports each handle more than one million passengers annually.”

Are there too many planes flying over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Who flies most …

Half of the UK population do not fly at all in any year - those who do take more than two return trips on average.

Higher income households take more flights, single people and childless couples fly more than families, and those who own property abroad fly often.

Households with total earnings over £115,000 per year take around 60 per cent more trips per year than those earning less than £40,000.

Regional airports have continued to grow at a faster rate than London airports, and in 2007 handled 42 per cent of passengers at UK airports.

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