Gatwick is to release a final growth masterplan later this year as it looks to expand to cope with growing demand.

No date for publication was given as the airport revealed a 4% rise in passenger throughput to 9.7 million passengers in the first quarter of the year.

However, the airport has previously suggested using its stand-by strip in addition to its main runway to raise capacity.

The year-on-year increase in the first three months of 2019 included a 7.5% rise in long-haul passengers, with North Atlantic routes up by 15.3% – the busiest start to a calendar year.

Gatwick handled record numbers over February school half-term with a rise of 7% to 1.2 million passengers. Long-haul growth shot up by 20% during the February 15-24 period thanks to the popularity of Dubai and Barbados.

February also saw the start of a new easyJet Dusseldorf service, operating 11 times a week – the fifth new Gatwick route from the budget airline at Gatwick in recent months, joining Aqaba, Rovaniemi, Warsaw and Aarhus.

This follows the addition of a new service to Ankara by Turkish Airlines in January, bringing the number of capital cities served from Gatwick up to 50.

Domestic routes to Isle of Man and Glasgow saw growth of 9% and 5% respectively in the quarter.

Travellers using GatwickConnects, the airport’s service which enables passengers to book connecting flights via Gatwick, increased 80% from Edinburgh, 58% from Jersey and 50% from Belfast.

Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick’s year has started as we mean the rest of 2019 to go on. Our pioneering spirit at the airport is driving for success in both the short and long term.

“In the immediate period, we continue to innovate, enabling new and established airlines to grow to all parts of the world – including most recently a new service to Rio de Janeiro.

“Looking ahead to further opportunities, we will publish the final version of Gatwick’s masterplan later this year, outlining potential options for future growth.”