As MPs prepare to vote on plans to build a third runway in the coming weeks, Heathrow airport has reported a 3.1 per cent boost in traffic in May.

The UK hub saw 6.7 million passengers travel through its halls. The airport says incoming tourism for the royal wedding helped drive the increase, with numbers on flights from North America up 5 per cent.

Domestic traffic also saw an increase of 5.5 per cent year on year, with more passengers flying to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Leeds.

During May, the airport saw new connections to Wuhan and Sanya operated by China Southern, with the latter being Europe’s first direct flight to the city. Heathrow says the new routes will allow for 110,000 new seats and 6,000 metric tonnes of cargo capacity.

On the cargo front, the airport saw its 22nd consecutive month of growth, with tonnage up 0.5 per cent to more than 144,000. Long-haul markets such as Japan (+28 per cent) and Brazil (+33 per cent) proving to be the fastest-growing.

Heathrow says the latest parliamentary poll shows 75 per cent of MPs back expansion at the airport. Business and union leaders have come out in support of the third runway, saying the extra capacity it could create will be needed in a post-Brexit economy.

However, the plans could face opposition from those who worry about the cost of the project.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow airport, said: “We have a robust plan to expand Britain’s hub airport, unlocking billions in growth and creating tens of thousands of new skilled jobs – from Plymouth to Perth and Swansea to Southend. With strong cross-party support and a united voice from business and unions – MPs must finally seize the opportunity to expand Heathrow and secure a prosperous future for all of Britain.”

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