Stansted Airport has followed a record-breaking year in 2016 by reporting its busiest-ever January.
More than 1.745m passengers passed through the airport last month, up 5% on the January 2016 total of £1.661m, which was itself a record for the month.
This pushed the rolling annual total for the year to the end of January to nearly 24.401m, an increase of 7.3% compared with the figure of 22.742m for the previous 12 months.
Aircraft load factors, a measure of how many available seats are actually filled, also hit a new record high for the month with an average of 81.4%, compared with the previous best of 79.2%, also achieved in January last year.
And the airport, part of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said the growth in passenger numbers had been accoompanied by news from both Ryanair and British Airways of new services and increased frequencies to be added to their schedules at Stansted this summer.
Andrew Cowan, chief executive at Stansted Airport, said: “We have begun 2017 in a similarly positive way to how we ended 2016, with a record number of passengers for the month of January taking advantage of the extensive range of destinations available from Stansted.
“In addition, and in a further boost to growth, it was fantastic to hear both Ryanair and British Airways announcing they will be launching a host of new services and increasing frequency on a range of popular destinations and holiday hotspots across the summer season, including Florence, Copenhagen, Nice, Naples and Geneva.
“This is excellent news for Stansted as we continue to grow our route network and even better news for passengers across London and the east of England looking for more choice and great value flying from their local airport.”
The tonnage of cargo handled at Stansted last month dipped by 1.5% compared with January 2016, to 19,955 from 20,260, but the rolling annual total remains firmly in growth, 5.6% up on the previous 12 months at 252,313 tonnes against 238,874.
Stansted handled a total of around 24.3m passengers in the 12 months to December 31, making 2016 its busiest-ever calendar year. The previous high of 23.8m was achieved in 2007.