The three airports that make up Manchester Airports Group handled four million more passenger last year than 2016.

The total rose by 7.3% on a like-for like basis helped by the addition of new routes and airlines and excluding figures for Bournemouth airport which was sold in December.

Manchester airport saw annual growth of 8.5% to 27.8 million passengers despite Monarch, the airport’s seventh biggest airline,  collapsing in October.

Strong airline demand has enabled the airport to make good progress in allocating the slots previously used by Monarch for summer 2018 and flights with, Tui and Thomas Cook Airlines are already on sale.

Stansted also recorded its busiest ever year with 6.5% growth to 25.9 million passengers, driven by increased numbers on popular routes to Spain, France, Denmark, Turkey and Bulgaria.

The year ended with Emirates announcing a new direct service to Dubai in June.

However, the number of passengers passing through Stansted in December was slightly down on the same month in 2016, largely due to flight cancellations due to adverse weather conditions in the UK and across Europe.

It was still the second busiest December on record with more than 1.8 million passengers flying during the month.

East Midlands airport numbers grew by 4.9% to 4.8 million. The airport has ambitious expansion plans to double its passenger numbers to 10 million in the next ten to 15 years, with a focus on developing more routes to major European hubs to complement is popular holiday routes.

Stansted chief executive Ken O’Toole said: “The last year has been a very busy and exciting time at London Stansted with passenger numbers and the range of destinations directly available from the airport both reaching all-time highs.

“The positive passenger growth was driven by increased choice from many of our airline partners, particularly Ryanair who experienced another strong year, and the very successful opening of’s first base in the south of England back in March.

“In 2018, our aim is to continue growing our passenger numbers and provide even more choice, so we were absolutely delighted to announce just before Christmas that Emirates will begin operating a new service to Dubai from Stansted in June.

“This excellent addition to our route network comes on top of the very exciting news that Primera Air will also launch direct flights to New York, Boston and Toronto from April and May this year.”