New York tops the destination board for flights out of London

Departure sign IR Stone shutterstock_180866810-2

Photo: IR Stone | Shutterstock

New York is the most popular international destination for passengers flying out of London’s airports.  Combined traveller numbers to JFK and Newark airports were 4.2 million according to the latest data from the Civil Aviation Authority.  But running a close second to New York is somewhere much closer to home, the Irish capital Dublin, with 4 million people flying out of London.

The international destinations data for 2014 shows a mix of globetrotters and short-haulers, but it doesn’t make clear how many were from the UK or just routing through London as part of their onward journey.

Amsterdam and Dubai were also in the top five, both cities welcomed over 3 million London flyers. While European cities mostly dominate the list, Hong Kong and Los Angeles also take in significantly high numbers from London at 1.5m and 1.3m respectively.

City All passengers travelling from London
New York 4,207,478
Dublin 4,068,327
Amsterdam 3,611,494
Dubai 3,213,296
Madrid 2,582,799
Barcelona 2,534,636
Geneva 2,394,016
Rome 2,210,471
Paris 2,031,242
Copenhagen 1,901,898
Malaga 1,798,104
Frankfurt 1,739,429
Zurich 1,712,376
Hong Kong 1,563,714
Munich 1,527,020

The USA is the favourite destination country – 15.9 million London passengers took the long-haul flight across the Atlantic. Spain’s holiday appeal makes it London’s second country of choice, taking 12.6 million people many of them flying out of Gatwick to holiday destinations.

In total, 73 million people flew out of Heathrow airport, almost double the number from the UK’s second biggest airport, Gatwick, which had 38 million.

The most popular flights from Heathrow range greatly between long-haul to the likes of New York, Dubai and Los Angeles, and short-haul to neighbouring European countries.

City airport Passengers travelling from Heathrow
New York (JF Kennedy) 2,972,729
Dubai 2,437,889
Dublin 1,650,675
Hong Kong (Chek Lap Kok) 1,563,714
Frankfurt Main 1,506,705
Amsterdam 1,486,995
Los Angeles International 1,354,610
Madrid 1,274,707
Barcelona 1,268,729
Paris (Charles De Gaulle) 1,247,665

Gatwick’s most common destinations are a little closer to home, flying to Europe, with the exception of Dubai. The destination board is dominated by holiday traffic.

City airport Passengers travelling from Gatwick
Barcelona 1,268,729
Malaga 1,055,257
Dublin 990,236
Amsterdam 848,996
Geneva 816,778
Dubai 775,362
Alicante 768,373
Copenhagen 734,328
Tenerife (Surreina Sofia) 732,873
Madrid 718,235

The past twelve months has seen another rise in total passenger numbers with 146.3 million arriving and departing on the capital’s runways – an increase on the same period in 2014-15 of 4.7%.

A new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick will increase capacity further but amid the political turmoil caused by the Brexit vote a decision on where it should be build  has been pushed back until October at the earliest, according to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Source data: DestinationsTotal passenger numbers

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Heathrow gets the nod to expand, but it’s already Europe’s noisiest airport

© Rowfam | - British Airways Plane Landing Over Houses Photo

BA plane landing at Heathrow: © Rowfam |

Heathrow is Europe’s noisiest airport, if judged by the numbers of people who are affected by noise pollution. Those on the flight path responded with dismay and anger after the Airport Commission recommended it be allowed to expand by building a third runway.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, called the decision “catastrophic”. He has been a vocal critic of  Heathrow expansion and championed the building of a new airport in the Thames estuary.

In its report today the commission accepts that Heathrow is a worse choice when it comes to noise, saying, “Although an expanded Gatwick would see more people affected by noise than today, its overall noise impacts would still be much less significant than those around Heathrow.”

A plane lands or takes off around every 45 seconds at Heathrow and it accommodates more flights on its two runway than any other equivalent airport.

Data gathered by the European Commission and the CAA shows that nearly three quarters of a million people are disturbed by noise around Heathrow to a level that may be damaging their well-being. That’s more than a quarter of all the people who are impacted by airport noise levels in the whole of Europe.

Airport noise europe

And Heathrow dwarfs any other UK airport it terms of its noise footprint with Gatwick affecting a fraction of the number.

Airport noise uk

The noise level is calculated using a measurement called the Lden level and more than 55 decibels Lden has been determined by the World Health Organisation to have damaging affects on health and well-being. These include stress, sleep problems, and high blood pressure but the WHO says  child development can also be affected.

The Airport Commission says that the development of quieter aircraft will mean the number of people who suffer from the noise will fall by 2030 and suggests what it calls a “noise envelope” for Heathrow that places a cap on the numbers of people who are affected.

That may be little comfort for those living inside the “envelope” so the commission also says night flights should be banned and there should be an airport levy to pay for noise mitigation measures.

It says that spending on measures to reduce noise should be much higher than it has been historically and data gathered by the Civil Aviation Authority backs this up. In recent years Heathrow has spent €7.7 million annually, but Madrid and Paris Charles de Gaulle spend €11 million and Frankfurt and Amsterdam are spending €30 million.

The final decision to approve the Heathrow expansion now goes to the government. The commission report makes the case strongly that Heathrow delivers far more that Gatwick in terms of international connections and economic growth for the country. But in describing the Gatwick plan as “credible” it has given the government the wriggle room to ignore its recommendation.

Airports Commission Report

Airports Commission noise discussion paper

Airport noise level data

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Amid Heathrow-Gatwick battle smaller airports fuel passenger growth

Heathrow © Artistan | - People Queuing At The Airport Photo

Photo: © Artistan |

As the battle over airport expansion between Heathrow and Gatwick enters its final weeks data on passenger numbers from the Civil Aviation Authority shows that it is the smaller airports of City and Stansted that are helping to fuel growth.

Passenger numbers for London’s airports hit a record high of 137 million people in the year to the end of March. The previous 12-month high was 130 million in 2008, before the recession.

Airport passengers totals

In March 2015 alone there were nearly 11 million passengers, a rise from March last year of 9%. But the growth rate in passenger numbers is not evenly distributed. City Airport saw growth of 34% and it was 24% at Stansted.  Passenger numbers at Gatwick grew by 9% in March and at Heathrow by just 3%.

Airport passengers March

In 2012 the Government set up the Airport Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to examine how to expand airport capacity for London. Both Heathrow and Gatwick have proposed a third runway and have had a bitter fight about which site is best suited for expansion.

The latest data from the CAA suggests that Heathrow is running at full capacity. Numbers of flights in an out of Heathrow remained constant between 2013 and 2014. Gatwick increased aircraft movements by 4%. The biggest increase in traffic was at Stansted with a 9% increase. It was 3% at City.

Airport traffic movement March

The Airport Commission’s last minute public consultation on the impact on air quality of expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick ended last week. The Commission is expected to make its recommendation at the end of the month. But despite 3 years in the making the Government has not promised it will implement the findings.

Source data

See also:

Air links contribute to London’s global status