Gatwick Airport has recorded its best year on record, welcoming 44m passengers to the airport in a year for the first time.
The London airport passed the milestone this weekend, making it a record for a single runway airport, and taking Gatwick to 49 consecutive months of growth.
Gatwick's boss Stewart Wingate has taken the opportunity to reiterate his push for airport expansion. Gatwick lost out when Heathrow got the green light for a third runway at the end of last year, but it has been keen to keep the pressure on and secure an additional runway "at the earliest opportunity".
"At this crucial time for the country and the economy, Gatwick continues to stand ready and offers the UK government a credible and deliverable option for runway expansion," Wingate said today.
The airport has been notably boosted by long-haul routes. It had its busiest ever March last month with over 3.3m passengers passing through; up 8.4 per cent on the same month last year.
New routes to Denver and Seattle from the airport have just been announced by Norwegian, which is making a transatlantic push with low-cost, long-haul routes, and Gatwick posted bumper long-haul traffic to North America last month.
That rose 37 per cent, with services to LA, Boston and Toronto particularly fast-growing.
Wingate, Gatwick's chief executive, said: "Our passengers continue to show confidence in foreign travel, particularly to the growing number of long haul destinations that Gatwick now serves. We launched 20 new long haul routes last year alone and even more will start this summer, including to Seattle, Denver and Xi’an – our third destination in China – with our Hong Kong service also going daily."
He said the long-haul growth was also driving up the amount of cargo flown out from Gatwick and "a 34 per cent increase in cargo this month alone".