Travel to Greece, Portugal and Italy has fallen sharply and Britons are even avoiding perennial favourite Spain, according to latest figures released by airports operator BAA.
They show that there was an 11% drop in the number of people flying between Heathrow and Portugal and Greece last month and a 9% drop in the numbers flying between Heathrow and Italy. Travel between Heathrow and Spain was 2.5% down.
Overall, total traffic for all BAA's UK airports was down just 0.1% compared with May 2011, a drop which was attributed to last year's late Easter and the Royal Wedding which boosted travel in May 2011.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said the decline in travel between the UK and the cash-strapped eurozone countries demonstrated why it was vital for Britain to build air links to long-haul destinations whose economies were growing.
"The continued resilience of our airports in the face of economic turbulence is encouraging. But the impact of the eurozone crisis is still being felt with sharp falls in passenger numbers to the worst affected countries and reduced cargo traffic.
"This is why the UK needs to urgently build better links to the countries whose economies are growing such as China, India and Brazil. But with the UK's only hub airport, Heathrow, already full, France and Germany are forging ahead and we are being left behind."
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh, a harsh critic of the Coalition's aviation policy, said this week they were "top of the list of governments who don't get it".
Speaking at the aviation industry's annual conference in Beijing, Walsh, who wants to see Heathrow expanded and air passenger duty cut, said ministers were "doing everything they can to suppress and damage aviation", according to the Daily Telegraph.
By Linsey McNeill
Wednesday, June 13, 2012