GLASGOW Airport has posted its first year-on-year fall in passenger numbers since early 2013, and highlighted concerns about the potential impact of Brexit-related uncertainty on its ability to win new routes.

The year-on-year decline in passenger traffic at the airport in January was driven by weather-related disruption and United’s suspension of its Glasgow to Newark route this winter.

United’s Glasgow to Newark service is due to resume on May 5, an airport spokesman noted. He pointed out the winter suspension of this service would also affect the airport’s passenger numbers for this month, March and April.

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Analysis: Brexit cloud on horizon as new routes sought

The spokesman meanwhile underlined the potential effect of continuing uncertainty over Brexit on decisions by airlines about new routes.

He said: “We have still got the uncertainty around what is going to happen with Brexit. It just affects the confidence of the airlines in terms of putting in new routes. Until they understand what the new relationship or the transition deal is going to look like, they may be reluctant to introduce new routes.”

The spokesman added: “It is fair to say that no business thrives during uncertainty, which is what we are dealing with at the moment. Airlines are still very risk-averse…

“It is probably easier for them to place aircraft in countries where they have confidence in the market there. They probably don’t have the same level of confidence [in the UK] until they understand what the transition deal will look like and what the new relationship with the EU will look like.”

Francois Bourienne, Glasgow Airport’s commercial director, said: “January’s passenger numbers are a clear reminder that we cannot take our air connections for granted as the airport continues to face stiff global competition when it comes to attracting new routes and maintaining existing ones.”

Analysis: Brexit cloud on horizon as new routes sought

Glasgow Airport noted that, in terms of outbound and inbound flights, there had been a total of about 160 cancellations because of weather last month.

Passenger numbers at Glasgow Airport in January were, at 579,888, down by three per cent on the same month of last year. International passenger numbers last month were, at 286,339, down1.9 per cent on January 2017, reflecting United’s Glasgow-Newark service suspension.

Passenger numbers at Glasgow on scheduled flights to and from other EU countries were, in January, up by 4.7 per cent on the same month of last year. Glasgow Airport cited the popularity of some winter sun routes and an increase in capacity to city-break destinations including Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dusseldorf, Lisbon and Valencia.

Domestic passenger numbers at Glasgow were, at 293,549 in January, down by four per cent on the same month of 2017.

Glasgow Airport flagged the temporary suspension of Ryanair’s three-times-daily Stansted service, in the context of domestic passenger numbers. The spokesman noted this suspension had come into effect on October 29, with this service due to resume on March 25.

Mr Bourienne said: “Against the backdrop of continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Scottish Government’s proposed 50 per cent reduction in air passenger duty would deliver a much-needed competitive edge and provide airlines with the confidence to invest further in Scotland.”

Analysis: Brexit cloud on horizon as new routes sought

Edinburgh Airport yesterday announced it had recorded its busiest January on record last month. Its passenger numbers in January, at 837,542, were up by 7.1 per cent on the same month of last year. Its international passenger numbers last month were up by 14.5 per cent on a year earlier, at 481,167. However, its domestic passenger numbers in January were, at 356,375, down by 1.5 per cent on the same month of 2017.

Aberdeen International Airport said it had handled 220,427 passengers in January, up by 6.4 per cent on the same month of last year.