Movements in international business travel
10-Sep-10by Annie Byrne
Heathrow’s owners BAA says business travellers have been the main contributor to August 2010 becoming its busiest month this year in terms of thoroughfare, and its second busiest month on record. The London airport saw a 2.5 per cent increase year-on-year with some 6.5m people travelling through it, with European traffic increasing by 10.4 per cent. This is compared to an overall drop in traffic for the whole group of BAA UK airports, which saw a fall of 0.6 per cent in August with 10.6m passengers. BAA said Heathrow benefited from an improvement in the business travel sector, but other airports in the group suffered due to a reliance to the leisure sector. In other global airport news, the world’s busiest airport according to Airports Council International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s plans for a US$1.3bn international terminal by 2012 will be able to go ahead after its funding ran dry and it reached an agreement with the airlines serving it. According to city Mayor Kasim Reed, the airlines, which include Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways, agreed to contribute an additional $30m spread over four fiscal years to help the city of Atlanta finish the terminal by the scheduled 2012 completion date. “This agreement is another key element in our effort to ensure that Atlanta remains the [world’s] busiest passenger airport,” he said.Upon opening, the airport will then make contractual repayments to the airlines involved contingent upon the financial success of the new development. Previously, Delta has requested the airport cut $400m in the project’s budget and threatened to reduce its capacity out of the city. The airline eventually conceded to the reduction in budget. Over in Germany, the government has voted for an increase in air departure tax, which has been protested against by German-based carrier Lufthansa, which believes it will significantly weaken the country as an air traffic hub. The tax, which will be put in place for 1 January 2011 and is part of an €80m revenue-raising measure, has been increased to €8 (US$10) for flights within Europe, €25 to medium-haul destinations and €45 to long-haul destinations. The government has also been criticised for announcing it will immediately levy the tax on all post-31 December bookings. Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the move was to “avoid a rush of bookings aimed at pre-empting the tax”.The German airline association BDF claims that the tax will cost Germany five million passengers per year and 10,000 jobs.And in Asia, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) is set to launch the country’s first low-cost carrier for both international and domestic short-haul routes. The airline says it is anticipating a boom in Asian travel demand and aims to begin services out of Kansai International Airport, Osaka, in the second half of 2011. In Shanghai, China, the city opened a new US$2.2bn terminal in time for the World Expo, currently being held in the city. ANA’s new carrier, which is yet to be named, will operate independently from ANA and offer tickets at half the current fare levels. The airline says it is looking to the Chinese market, which previously was deterred by the high costs associated with flying to Japan.