An airline boss says there are positive signs that the North East economy is growing – after his firm’s cargo exports jumped by over 25%.
Emirates vice president for the UK and Ireland Laurie Berryman is toasting a record 2013, with passenger numbers from Newcastle breaking the 10,000 a month mark in October.
And he says more and more he is seeing a confidence among people and businesses in the region, with small and medium sized firms increasingly selling their wares to the world.
“We’re nine months into the financial year and I expect that by the end of it we’ll have seen a 25% to 30% year on year increase in cargo,” Mr Berryman said.
“And that is not just cargo that was being previously taken to Heathrow or Manchester – that’s also new cargo, from North East SMEs, who are exporting more.”
Mr Berryman, said he was “delighted” at how business continued to build six years after the airline first introduced services from Newcastle International Airport to Dubai.
“It’s just over a year since introducing our Boeing 777 and we saw record numbers of passengers in October,” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve carried more than 10,000 people in a month from Newcastle – up from 7,400 the previous year.
“It’s been very strong growth year on year and the initial figures for December are also looking very good.”
Last week couple Peter and Sheila Laverick were treated to a free surprise upgrade to business class, and met at check in with a cake and champagne, after being told their trip to New Zealand, via Sydney to spend Christmas with their daughter, son-in-law and grandson, and celebrate their forthcoming Golden Wedding anniversary, made them the airline’s millionth passengers from the airport.
The strong autumn figures follow a huge growth in Emirates’ year-on-year Newcastle passenger numbers in the spring – 25% in April and over 30% in May.
“People are feeling confident about booking their holidays for 2014 and already February and Easter are looking quite strong,” said Laurie.
“But the key holiday booking month of January is just around the corner so it will be interesting to see what happens.”
Mr Berryman said that he hopes his airline can continue to grow at Newcastle, and that the company will continue to invest in the North East.
“We increased capacity hugely last year and we need to grow into that,” he said.
“But our sponsorship of Durham County Cricket, the Emirates tower air traffic control centre at Newcastle, and the Metro train is ongoing, so our commitment to the North East continues.
“I’d like to say thank you to all the people and businesses in Newcastle and the North East who have supported us, and lets all hope for a prosperous 2014.”