Increased long-haul travel helped Gatwick achieve its 60th month of consecutive growth in February.

Passenger numbers edged up by 0.7% to three million over the same month last year, giving the airport five full years of month-on-month growth.

Global connectivity will be expanded with the return of Qatar Airways flights to Doha after seven years in May.

Gatwick’s busiest-ever February was fuelled by further growth in long-haul routes, up 16.7%.

Asia routes performed particularly well as thousands of passengers flew to and from the Far East to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong saw passenger numbers soar by almost 75% year-on-year while Tianjin was 12.9% up.

Transatlantic demand saw numbers to Fort Lauderdale rise by 80%, Oakland, San Francisco by 67.6% and New York by 43.4%.

The demand prompted low cost carrier Norwegian to raise capacity this summer by 150,000 seats. The airline also starts serving Austin and Chicago this month following the introduction of Buenos Aires in February.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Our February traffic figures mark five consecutive years of growth and during this time Gatwick has been transformed by our ongoing £2.7 billion investment programme.

“February’s passenger figures are the latest demonstration of Gatwick’s importance as a vital piece of UK infrastructure providing global connectivity at a time when the country needs it most.

“We have exciting plans for growth maximising the use of our existing facilities whilst we also offer the country the prospect of a financeable and deliverable new runway scheme.”

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