Gatwick saw revenue and profits take off across the summer even though passenger numbers grew by a “moderate’ 100,000.

Revenue was up by 5.4% to £512.5 million in the six months to September 30.

This resulted in earnings [ebitda] up 5.9% to £325 million and a profit after tax of £139.1 million, helped by “careful cost management”.

Passenger throughput grew by 0.5% year-on-year to reach a record of 26.5 million.

The growth was driven by a 21.3% rise in long-haul connections. One in six Gatwick passengers now travel to a long-haul destination.

China Eastern will starts new service to Shanghai in December, building on increased passenger numbers to China, up 54.3% on the same period in 2017.

Gatwick said: “Overall passenger growth at the airport has been more moderate than in recent years as airlines build towards full utilisation of slots made available and acquired when Monarch ceased trading.

“This also resulted in fewer flights through the airport in the period compared to last year.”

CEO Stewart Wingate said: “The last six months have seen Gatwick continue to break new ground, while today the airport is serving 46 million annual passengers.

“Growth has been more moderate than in prior years as airlines are currently in the process of gearing up aircraft to be available to serve the capacity created by former Monarch slots. We are expecting to see stronger growth once these slots are fully utilised.

“In response to passenger demand for Gatwick’s global connectivity, we have published the airport’s draft master plan, setting out our vision for growth to the 2030s.

“We are now seeking feedback from the public, including our local neighbours and our airport partners on this draft master plan, as we seek to fulfil our role for the country, in the most sustainable way.”

The consultation on the plan, setting out the airport’s vision for growth to the 2030s including bringing its second standby runway into regular use, is live until 5pm on January 10.