Airports operator BAA has announced a 4.4% increase in passenger traffic at its six UK airports during 2011.

BAA’s airports handled 108.5 million passengers last year, which dropped to just 0.9% after adjusting for a series of disruptions in 2010, including strikes by British Airways cabin crew, the volcanic ash cloud and severe snowfalls.

During 2011, Edinburgh was the busiest airport, handling 9.4 million passengers, a rise of 9.2%. Glasgow’s passenger traffic increased by 5.1% to 6.9 million, while Aberdeen recorded a year-on-year rise of 11.8% to over 3.1 million.

Heathrow Airport served 69.4 million passengers in 2011, beating its record growth of 67.9 million set in 2007. BAA said that the airport handled 5,517,300 passengers during December 2011, marking a 2.8% rise in traffic – the highest rate since June 2011.

Heathrow served 476,197 flights in 2011, reaching 99.2% of the airport’s annual limit of 480,000, which has added pressure to the need to expand its capacity with another runway.

"As the UK’s only international hub airport, Heathrow is central to developing our trade links with fast-growing emerging markets," said Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive. "Capacity constraints are damaging the UK economy today when the country can least afford it. A new hub airport has been proposed in the south-east, but this has a projected cost of £50bn and may take decades to build. During this time we would be handing over on a plate the UK’s historic trade advantages to our European competitors."

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BAA is majority-owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.