Cargo tonnage gave a boost to Heathrow airport in February, complementing an increase in passenger numbers.

Traffic at the airport was up 2.4 per cent on 2017, with 5.4 million passengers travelling through the hub. The numbers were boosted by growth in emerging markets such as south Asia (up 12.7 per cent) and Latin America (up 6.5 per cent), as well as airlines flying larger, fuller aircraft.

Closer to home, passenger growth on Flybe’s network saw overall domestic traffic up 3.6 per cent.

As well as more passengers, Heathrow saw a 5 per cent year-on-year increase in cargo on the back of growth in the North American and east Asian markets.

Heathrow says the increasing amount of trade passing through its halls shows a need to expand ‘at pace’, pointing to research that shows 20 per cent of trade through the airport is already at capacity.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow airport, said: “Today’s figures show that Heathrow is filling up fast – if we don’t act soon to expand our nation’s global gateway, the UK will only fall further behind our European rivals. A prosperous, global-trading Britain needs an expanded Heathrow now.”

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