Friday 11 January 2019 2:34 pm

Heathrow breaks through 80m passenger mark as it plans for expansion

A record-breaking 80m passengers travelled through Heathrow last year as the airport reaped the rewards of larger planes and an increase in bookings.

Heathrow saw its passenger numbers rise 2.7 per cent in 2018 on the year before, becoming one of only seven airports in the world to surpass the 80m mark.

December was a busy period for the west London airport, with 6.5m people using Heathrow for their winter holidays or to travel home for Christmas.

Africa and Latin America were the destinations with the highest levels of passenger growth, rising 9.3 per cent and seven per cent respectively on last year.

Earlier this week Heathrow unveiled plans to add up to 25,000 flights a year to its schedule ahead of the construction of its controversial third runway.

But the additional flight paths would require approval by the aviation regulator and the removal of the limit of 500,000 flights per year.

The airport’s only passenger decline was in domestic flights, which fell 0.1 per cent.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “2018 has been an exceptional year for Heathrow, with record passenger numbers and service levels, and with MPs voting overwhelmingly in support of expansion.

“We are on track to deliver an expanded Heathrow in the early years of Brexit, which will keep Britain as one of the world's great trading nations.”

Heathrow and Gatwick are investing millions on anti-drone technology following drone sightings that forced both airports to close in recent weeks.