Both Heathrow and Gatwick have reported record traffic for the month of March, with the airports seeing a combined 10 million passengers.
At Heathrow, traffic was up 5.5 per cent year-on-year to 6.5 million for March – the airport’s 17th consecutive month of growth. The early Easter holiday and start of half-term led to 136,000 people departing from Heathrow on 30 March alone.
Heathrow says long-haul flights to emerging destinations in Africa (up 12 per cent), the Middle East (up 11 per cent) and Latin America (up 7.3 per cent) drove the increase in passengers.
Cargo passing through Heathrow was also up 1.5 per cent to more than 150,000 tonnes, with the US and Japan among the fastest-growing markets.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow airport, said: “The booming growth in passenger numbers and cargo, particularly from emerging markets, underpins the urgency to secure Britain’s economic future with a third runway at Heathrow – which has now been backed by the cross-party Transport Select Committee.”
Meanwhile, Gatwick saw a 2.5 per cent increase to 3.5 million passengers. Long-haul routes were also a key factor here, up 23.2 per cent, led by the US and Canada (up 37 per cent).
The airport’s Asia routes continued to grow too, with Hong Kong up 67 per cent. On African routes, Casablanca was up 82.9 per cent, while Banjul increased 57.6 per cent.
Cargo tonnage was up 21.7 per cent.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick airport, commented: “Passenger demand for our transatlantic routes continues to boom with new services to Austin and Chicago with Norwegian starting in March, along with British Airways adding further capacity to Toronto with the new thrice-weekly service.
“As our performance in March demonstrates, Gatwick is playing an increasingly important role for the country on the world stage, providing global connectivity at a time when the UK really needs it.
“We have exciting plans for future growth at the airport, maximising the use of our existing facilities whilst continuing to offer the country the prospect of a financeable and deliverable new runway scheme.”