GLASGOW Airport has revealed 2013 was its busiest year since 2008, as passenger numbers climbed to 7.4 million on the back of strong rises in scheduled European and long-haul traffic.
The airport's passenger number total for last year, unveiled yesterday, was up by 2.9% on 2012. Domestic passenger numbers were up by 2.5%, and international traffic was up by 3.2%.
This was the third straight year of growth in passenger numbers for Glasgow Airport. The airport served a record 8.8 million passengers in 2006. Passenger numbers dipped to 8.7 million in 2007.
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In 2008, as recession took hold, passenger numbers dropped to 8.1 million. They then tumbled to 7.2 million in 2009 and to 6.5 million in 2010, before rising to 6.9 million in 2011 and then climbing to 7.2 million in 2012.
The collapse of Zoom in 2008, and Flyglobespan in December 2009, played a significant part in the decline in passengers at Glasgow from their record level, before the current period of recovery.
A spokesman for Glasgow Airport, part of the Heathrow Airport Holdings operation known formerly as BAA, said there were about 3.7 million domestic and 3.7 million international passengers in 2013. He noted that many of the domestic passengers would have fed into international routes at London airports, mainly Heathrow.
Glasgow Airport highlighted a jump of 11% in long-haul passenger numbers in 2013, and a 15% rise in traffic on European scheduled services. There was a fall in European charter flight traffic, the spokesman said, reflecting cuts in capacity by operators.
The airport said that the arrival of airlines such as Poland's Wizz Air and Germany's Lufthansa Regional had contributed to the increase in international traffic, as had the strong performance of long-haul carriers Emirates, United and Virgin Atlantic.
Glasgow Airport said yesterday that more than 455,000 passengers had passed through its doors last month, up 3.9% on December 2012.
The spokesman said that international traffic in December was up 11.8% on the same month of 2012. He added that domestic passenger numbers last month were down 1.2% on December 2012, but attributed this to disruption at the start of the month resulting from high winds.
The spokesman highlighted Virgin Atlantic's addition this year of 14,000 extra seats on its services between Glasgow and Orlando in Florida.
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: "To have recorded our busiest year in five years, and our third consecutive year of growth, is very pleasing. We enjoyed considerable success throughout 2013 in further strengthening our route network and we committed significant investment to enhancing our facilities."
Ms McMillan, however, believed further growth would be a challenge, given the economic backdrop, although she looked forward to this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
She said: "Whilst the growth in numbers would appear to suggest a renewed confidence amongst airlines and passengers, we are still operating in what remains a difficult economic environment, and achieving further growth will be a challenge.
Declaring that there was much to look forward to, with 2014 "set to be a momentous year for Glasgow", Ms McMillan added: "Our focus will be on ensuring we play our part in the successful delivery of what will be the biggest sporting event in Scotland's history, the 2014 Commonwealth Games."
Glasgow, which describes itself as Scotland's "principal long-haul airport", noted that it supported more than 7300 jobs across Scotland.
Aberdeen International Airport, part of the Heathrow Airport Holdings operation, said yesterday that it had achieved a record year in terms of passenger numbers in 2013. Nearly 3.49 million passengers passed through the airport last year, up by 3.8% on 2012.
The airport highlighted the fact that the 2013 figure beat its previous record high of 3.43 million in 2007, ahead of the economic downturn.
Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport said: "Throughout 2013, we were aware that the whole team was putting in a great performance, and it is therefore very pleasing to see us record such a high passenger figure. What this represents is a recovery from the recession which hit the whole of the UK aviation sector, some more than others."
She added: "We have recovered and then improved upon that performance as a result of great teamwork."
Aberdeen International Airport said that its December passenger numbers totalled 261,445.
This was up by 8.1% on December 2012.
Edinburgh Airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, has announced that it enjoyed a record year in 2013, with its passenger numbers up by 6.3% on 2012 at 9.8 million.
More than 645,000 passengers passed through Edinburgh Airport last month, up by 11% on December 2012.