JLA could ‘finish year in top 10’

Despite having the third largest urban area in the country, the city of Liverpool has an airport that is routinely placed only eleventh or twelfth in lists of the UK’s most popular hubs, pipped to the post by airports in smaller cities, such as Bristol and Luton.

However, bosses at Liverpool John Lennon (JLA) are hoping that the hub’s performance in 2010 is enough to shunt the airport up the league tables.

RDC Aviation, a supplier of “business intelligence” to the aviation industry, indicates that JLA achieved the second highest rise in passenger traffic in the UK during the three quarters to October.

First place, Belfast City, attracted an extra 221,000 people in the first nine months of 2010, compared to 208,000 at Liverpool. The rise is particularly significant, given that only 12 of 50 British airports have achieved growth this year.

Year-end figures are unlikely to be made public until the beginning of 2011, but an educated guess would place JLA’s total traffic for 2010 in the region of 5.1 – 5.3m.

Passenger numbers reached “record levels” in October, according to the Liverpool Daily Post, but the northwest hub is unlikely to match the success of 2007, when JLA recorded annual traffic figures in excess of 5.47m.

Craig Richmond, CEO at Peel Airports, indicated that new routes from easyJet and Ryanair were responsible for the increase in travellers, but warned against complacency in the face of the coming winter. “In terms of passenger numbers, yes, this was a good summer, but the winter period will undoubtedly be difficult for all in the aviation industry.”

Liverpool’s links to Belfast are some of the most popular domestic routes in the UK, with flights to Malaga and Alicante in Spain, and Dublin in Ireland, also performing well. Peel Airports say that JLA has “great potential” to become an important regional airport.

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