Heathrow airport reports record passenger numbers for 2017 due to bigger and fuller planes. A record-breaking 78 million passengers were handled through Heathrow airport in 2017, marking a more than 3 per cent increase on the previous year’s figure. The increase was credited to larger and fuller aircraft flying in and out of the hub.
In December, the airport has seen over 6.3 million passengers through its terminals, representing a 2.8 per cent increase on the same month in 2016 despite flight cancellations as a result of adverse weather conditions. Friday 22 December was the airport’s busiest day of the month, as over 248,000 passengers passed through, many on their way to join family and friends for the Christmas season.
The airport was able to add only 800 new flights or just over two per day by optimising take-off and landing patterns. Most of the jump in passengers came from carriers to bigger planes including the A380, which typically operates 25 departures a day from Heathrow with nine carriers, the most at any terminal apart from Dubai. British Airways has 12 superjumbos and is the biggest operator of Boeing’s 747 with 36 aircraft.
Airlines are also upscaling to bigger narrow-body jets, in which aircraft capacity is increased either through boosting the proportion of economy berths or removing bulkheads, moving toilets and adding thinner seats to create room for extra passengers.