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Long-haul flights demand boosts Glasgow passenger figures

GLASGOW Airport enjoyed a 6% year-on-year rise in passenger numbers in February, achieving growth in both domestic and international traffic, the latest monthly figures have revealed.

Nearly 450,000 passengers used the airport last month.

International passenger numbers in February were up by nearly 13% on the same month of last year, according to figures published yesterday by Glasgow Airport. The airport highlighted demand for long-haul services, and the addition of capacity by airlines including Jet2.com, Icelandair, and KLM.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport cited demand for Emirates' services to Dubai and beyond, and for transatlantic flights.

Domestic passenger numbers last month were up by 2% on February 2013, amid strong demand for services to London. Glasgow Airport, part of the Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) operation known formerly as BAA, also cited the popularity of CityJet's new Cardiff service.

The airport, which has attracted bid interest from a consortium comprising Strathclyde Pension Fund, investment company Partners Group and Zurich Airport, was used by 274,229 domestic passengers and 174,236 international travellers in February.

More than 436,000 passengers travelled through Glasgow Airport in January, up 6% on the same month of last year.

In 2013, Glasgow Airport enjoyed its busiest year since 2008 in terms of passenger numbers. About 7.4 million passengers used the airport last year, up 2.9% on 2012.

In spite of the airport's continuing growth, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick has called for assurances it will not be damaged by Prestwick Airport being taken into state ownership. The Scottish Government took control of Prestwick for £1 last year, after New Zealand-based operator Infratil was unable to find a buyer for the Ayrshire airport and exited.

Asked about the Prestwick situation last night, the Glasgow Airport spokesman replied: "We have received assurances from the (Scottish) Government that their plans for Prestwick will be entirely commercial and will not harm any other airports, and we will be meeting with them to get greater clarity on their plans going forward."

Romain Py, a senior finance executive, has been appointed to help advise the Scottish Government on its options for Prestwick. Mr Py was a founding member of the JP Morgan Infrastructure Group in Europe, which made an unsuccessful bid for Edinburgh Airport. His contract is understood to run until May 10.

News last month of the Strathclyde Pension Fund consortium's interest in bidding for Glasgow Airport followed reports that Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial was, with backers, proposing a bid of about £800 million to HAH for Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Southampton airports.

Ferrovial has a 25% holding in HAH.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said of her February passenger figures: "It is very pleasing to have continued our positive start to 2014, which promises to be a very exciting year."

Edinburgh Airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, said yesterday that its passenger numbers totalled 607,723 last month, up 7.8% on February 2013.

Its domestic passenger numbers in February were up 4.9% year-on-year at 338,488. Edinburgh Airport cited an increase in passengers travelling to Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic Little Red and to Gatwick with British Airways.

A total of 269,235 international passengers travelled through Edinburgh Airport last month, up by 11.6% on February 2013.

Aberdeen International Airport said that 255,416 people passed through its doors in February, up by 6.5% on the same month of last year.

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