Costs see flight numbers nosedive

The number of flights through UK airspace has fallen for the first time since the post-September 11 downturn as airlines are forced to make cutbacks due to rising fuel prices.

Air traffic control company Nats handled 231,537 flights in July 2008 - a 0.6% dip on the July 2007 total. The previous drop in flight numbers after the 9/11 attacks on the USA lasted for about a year.

But since September 2002, the Nats' monthly figures have generally shown an increase each month compared to the previous year.

Last month, transatlantic departures and arrivals decreased by 3.3%. And while transatlantic services flying non-stop over the UK grew by 2.3%, this compared with an 11.1% increase in June 2008 up from the same period last year.

The news comes after the Official Airline Guide warned last week of rising prices caused by airlines cutting the equivalent of one in every 14 seats this winter.

Nats operations director Ian Hall said: "The aviation industry has always been a barometer of the wider economy so it should not come as any surprise to see a slight slowdown, particularly since the airlines have signalled some cutbacks to services.

"This is the peak summer month and it is important to note that we are still handling record numbers of flights in key parts of our operation."

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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