By Daniel Hunter

Heathrow saw 5.9 million passengers in March, a record for the month and up 3.9% on March 2012. The figures were driven by a record March average load factor (how full the flight is) of 75.8%, up 2.4 percentage points.

This was on top of an increase in the average number of seats per aircraft, up 1.8% to 199.3, another record for the month. The integration of bmi into the British Airways network was the main driver of the increased numbers.

Many of Heathrow’s passengers travelled through Terminal 5, which was this week named ‘Best Airport Terminal’ in the world for the second year running at the Skytrax World Airport Awards, widely regarded as the quality benchmark for the industry.

European traffic performed well, up 7.4%, despite the continuing weakness of the European economy. Amongst the countries where traffic increased were Italy (19.4%), France (18.9%), Germany (7.9%) and Norway (25.9%). Traffic to Greece dropped 21.1% on March last year.

All of the BRIC economies recorded growth, up 5.1% in total. China saw the strongest increase, up 15.1%, followed by India (3.9%), Russia (3.0%) and Brazil (2.9%). Middle Eastern traffic was the fastest growing region, up 9.2% overall on the same month last year. Elsewhere, traffic with Latin America also increased (3.9%), with a more modest 1.4% increase in traffic with North America. African routes saw a
5% decline in traffic.

In line with slow world trade, Heathrow’s cargo activity was down 2.3% in March.

“T5 being voted 'best airport terminal in the world' for the second year running shows that passengers appreciate progress at Heathrow," Chief Executive for Heathrow, Colin Matthews, said.

"We will continue to improve Heathrow for passengers and airlines, opening the brand new Terminal 2 in summer 2014. We plan a further £3 billion of investment over the next five years.”

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