London Area Set For Continued Growth as ACL Maximises the Use of Available Capacity

London’s Airports Set for Continued Growth in Summer 2019

As one of the most constrained areas in Europe, the London airports are always a challenge for airlines to gain access or increase operations. With five airports in the London area designated as IATA Level Three – Coordinated – (slot demand significantly exceeds capacity), including Europe’s busiest International airport (London Heathrow) and Europe’s busiest single-runway airport (London Gatwick), capacity has become a scarce resource that is depleting fast.

In support of increasing demand, the airports in the London area have still managed to increase runway capacity for the IATA Summer 2019 scheduling period[1]. 31 extra daily slots have been released, equivalent to 0.6% of daily slots – however, sixteen of these are at London City airport, whose major constraining factor is stand availability rather than runway availability. London Gatwick and London Luton airports had no net increase in total capacity. London Stansted, whose major constraining factor is not the runway, released fifteen extra slots across each day. London Heathrow does not have a total hourly runway capacity, and is instead constrained by its annual movement cap.

Fig 1. Slots allocated as percentage of overall demand for London Airports in Summer 2018 and Summer 2019

Following on from our Initial Coordination, the number of slots allocated across the London area has increased Summer-on-Summer[2] by 1.5%, a real terms increase of over 11,000 slots (equivalent to roughly 26 daily rotations). On top of this, we have also seen airlines trying to make best use of the capacity available to them by increasing the number of seats that they are operating for each of their slots. The number of seats allocated for Summer 2019 has increased by over 3.4m, a percentage increase of almost 2.5%. All of the London airports saw an increase in the average number of seats per movement of almost 1%. On a specific airport level the largest increase was seen by London City airport, whose projected average seat per movement has increased from 85.6 in Summer 2018 to 91.5 in Summer 2019 – a 7% increase.

In conclusion this analysis shows that, despite limited opportunity for an increase in runway capacity in the London area, ACL have been able to maximise the utilisation of available capacity and are expecting continued growth across the five IATA Level Three London airports.


Adam McCulloch
Airport Capacity Analyst

[1] 31 March – 26 October 2019
[2] S18 figures adjusted by a factor of 0.9667 due to longer season length (31 weeks in Summer 2018, 30 weeks in Summer 2019)


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