Increased passenger numbers helped Heathrow hike profits by almost 20% last year.

The west London hub achieved a pre-tax profit of £267 million, a rise of 19.7% over 2015.

This came a revenue rose by 1.5% to £2.8 billion with passenger numbers up 1% to a record 75.7 million as passenger charges fell by 1%.

Retail revenue increased by 7.7% to £612 million, including £138 million from duty free sales and £114 million from car parking.

The airport received the green light in October to build a third runway, subject to final government approval, and will consult on plans to bring in 25,000 extra flights a year from 2021 including up to 40 new long-haul routes.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “2016 was a milestone year for Heathrow. I am very proud of what our 76,000 colleagues have achieved.

“We gave better service at lower cost to a record number of passengers and helped British businesses across the country trade more with the rest of the world.”

He added: “We have started the planning process for expansion and are preparing the skills and the supply chain we will need to build it sustainably and affordably. Heathrow is delivering for Britain.”