Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has served 60 million passengers in a year for the first time in its history.

The operator of Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports passed the milestone in September as the group grew 3.3% year on year.

Growth at Stansted, which saw its busiest ever SEptember, drove the group to a record high.

Manchester airport’s passenger number were slightly down, -1.1% year-on-year, which was put down to the collapse of Monarch Airlines.

Monarch Airlines flew its last month of full schedule from the airport in September 2017.

The airport expects growth to return next month, which will see the launch of the airport’s first link to India – Jet Airways’ service to Mumbai.

The top five growth destinations at Manchester in September were Belfast, Antalya, Cancun, Nuremberg and Dalaman.

Last month, a report showed a 38% increase in the number of Chinese visitors since 2016, and the average spend per visit increased by 94% to £2,167 due to the launch of direct flights from Manchester to Beijing.

East Midlands airport’s number was broadly flat year-on-year , with passenger numbers up 0.4%. A new route to Seville was “popular” and the Eastern Mediterranean was the biggest growth region for late summer sun from East Midlands.

Tim Hawkins, Manchester Airport Group’s chief strategy officer, said: “MAG’s continued growth demonstrates the key role that our airports will play in the next 10-15 years in meeting demand for air travel to and from the UK.

“In order to forge links with new markets once the UK has left the European Union, new long haul links will be of paramount importance right across the country.

“The government’s forthcoming aviation strategy needs to focus on the role that airports right across the UK can play in promoting trade links to new territories and new economies.

“We’ve seen the transformative effect that new routes to China from Manchester have had for the northern economy over the last three years, and the new Stansted to Dubai service is already proving extremely popular with businesses in the east of England.

“MAG’s teams are out meeting airlines from across the world every week and we are calling for an aviation strategy from government that supports the potential of the UK airports most capable of driving economic growth in their regions and for the UK as a whole.”