Heathrow warned today that it faces falling behind rival Paris as the top airport hub in Europe.

Cranking up lobbying for a third runway, the London airport claimed that Paris Charles de Gaulle is growing at twice the rate and is set to overtake Heathrow as Europe’s leading hub airport within the next two years.

The projection came despite a record breaking start to 2020 at Heathrow with passenger numbers in January up by 2.9% to more than 6 million.

UK routes led passenger growth, increasing by 10.2% as more passengers travelled on Flybe routes to Newquay and Guernsey.

Other top performing markets were the Middle East, up 7.6%, and North America, up 4.7%.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “If we are to be a truly global Britain, we need to be better connected to global markets than our rivals in Europe.

“It would be an economic disaster for the country to fall behind, just as we leave the EU.

“Heathrow’s new runway will make the UK a winner, connecting all of Britain to global growth and that’s why we need to get on with delivering it.”