Manchester airports Group handled a record of almost 59 million passengers in the financial year to March.

The figure was achieved despite the sale of Bournemouth airport to Rigby Group, the collapse of Monarch Airlines and cuts to Ryanair’s schedule.

The airports group expects growth to continue as Emirates, Primera Air and Wow Air start flying from Stansted, and new routes and additional capacity is added from Manchester and East Midlands.

MAG airports handled 4.3% more passengers in March than in the same month last year.

The fastest growth came at Stansted, with numbers up 5.8% to 1.99 million passengers.

Routes showing the strongest growth year on year at in March were all to business-focused destinations, with Belfast, Copenhagen and Frankfurt the three destinations to grow the most.

The city break destinations Prague, Naples, Nice and Istanbul were also strong performers.

Stansted is set to be the fastest growing airport serving the capital in 2018 with more than 10.8 million seats available across the most extensive summer schedule offered.

Manchester airport grew 3.7% to also serve 1.99 million passengers and is expecting to grow further as airlines including, Thomas Cook Airlines and Tui fill runway slots left vacant by the loss of Monarch at the start of the winter season. will extend its operation into Manchester’s expanding Terminal 2 this month, meaning it will operate flights across two terminals at Manchester for the first time.

East Midlands airport’s passenger figures in March declined by 1.7% to 272,000 but MAG expects growth to pick up as the summer begins.

MAG corporate affairs director Tim Hawkins said: “London Stansted’s growth demonstrates the key role it plays in connecting London and the east of England to an unrivalled range of European destinations.

“It was encouraging to see that the fastest growing routes at Stansted in March were those that had a strong mix of business passengers.

“The months ahead, at Stansted and across MAG, will see further growth, with new long haul and short haul route launches and that is why MAG is investing in its terminal facilities to ensure we have world class spaces to welcome our passengers.

“It will be at least 10-15 years before any new runway is available in the south-east and our airports – Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands – will support economic growth, job creation and increased trade by providing the spare runway capacity this country needs.”