Thousands of rugby fans travelling to Scotland from Italy and Wales helped boost passenger numbers using Edinburgh airport last month.

Numbers for the months increased by 8.2% to a total of 657,386 passengers.

Domestic passenger figures rose by 9.5% from 338,770 in February last year to 370,907 last month.

The addition of more daily flights between Edinburgh and London helped drive the passenger growth with introduction of new services by Ryanair to Stansted and Flybe to London City last October.

British Airways also performed well on its Cityflyer service to London City which now operates up to 12 times a day.

International passenger numbers grew by 6.5% to 286,479.

Edinburgh airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “After starting the new year on a solid footing we enjoyed a strong February with our passenger number up over 8%.

“This is great news for our airlines, our passengers and Edinburgh’s economy as many people no doubt travelled here for the RBS Six Nations.

“Strong performances in both our domestic and international traffic helped drive our growth last month with new services launching to Madeira with EasyJet, increased flights to Dublin with Ryanair and larger aircraft operating between Edinburgh and Paris on AirFrance’ HOP! route.

“We have a number of routes operating which weren’t in place last year and this has also helped drive our passenger numbers. Qatar Airlines, which launched last May, are delivering over 7,000 more passengers than we had last February.

“We’re looking forward to a busy few months as we prepare to welcome even more new airlines to Edinburgh.“

He added: “Of course we can only continue to drive passenger growth and our economy if our calls to reduce and abolish Air Passenger Duty are answered.

“The report we published earlier this this week shows that a 50% reduction in this damaging tax would create almost 4000 jobs and add £1 billion to the Scottish economy by 2020.”