David, while I take your claim as valid, it should also be remembered that BA/CitiExpress at Manchester has gone through some significant changes in the past 12 months most notably the replacement of the 737 fleet with BAe146/AVRO RJ's. This drop in capacity is reflected in the passenger number decline.
However, while I agree the regional focus has slipped, over all the signs are encouraging....
BA's passenger traffic up by 5.5%
British Airways Traffic and capacity statistics for November show that although the travel market remains subject to global economic and political uncertainty, the revenue outlook has stabilised.
In November 2002, overall load factor improved by 5.0 points to 66.5%.
Passenger capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres, was 1.3% below November 2001 while traffic, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres, rose by 5.5%
This resulted in a passenger load factor improvement of 4.4 points versus last year, to 68.3%.The rise in traffic comprised a 5.0% increase in premium traffic and a 5.6% increase in non-premium traffic. Cargo, measured in Cargo Tonne Kilometres, increased by 11.5%.
BA announced its longhaul flying programme for the summer 2003 season recentley which reflects the airline's drive to maximise revenue on profitable routes, reduce its cost base and work its assets harder.
Seven additional weekly flights between Heathrow and Chicago will be added next year plus five additional weekly flights between Heathrow and Newark, New York, three additional weekly flights between Heathrow and Toronto and three additional weekly flights between Gatwick and Houston.
Services from Heathrow to Houston which currently operate via Washington will operate via Chicago. Flights to Melbourne via Singapore will also increase from five per week to a daily service.
On South American routes, the airline's daily service to Rio de Janeiro via Sao Paulo will reduce to four flights per week. A non-stop service to Buenos Aires, which operates three times per week, will fly, in future, via Sao Paulo. These changes are due to the economic downturn in Brazil and Argentina which has led to a drop in passenger demand on these routes.
In November the airlines low fares to Europe got even lower with the introduction of a special early booking fare. The airline now offers a new lower fare on 74 routes with flights from £49 return in the UK and £59 to Europe, when purchased at least 30 days in advance of travel. There are no Saturday night stay restrictions and the fare is fully combinable with all other fares.
So while Manchester may have fallen i think it is unfair to say we are no longer "The World's Favourite" based on this!!!