The availability of spare capacity to be able to handle new services has been cited by Manchester Airports Group for a 7.9% rise in passengers handled by its airports last year.
The overall number rose to above 50 million, with Manchester airport seeing a 5.2% increase to 23.12 million and those using Stansted up by 13% to 22.57 million – the busiest 12 months since 2007.
Stansted saw “exceptionally strong” growth in domestic traffic during 2015 with passenger numbers up by 50%, primarily driven by increases in capacity on Scottish routes with Ryanair and EasyJet.
Attracting long haul services is key target for Stansted, and 2015 saw the start of new services to Las Vegas, Orlando and Cancun.
Passenger throughput at East Midlands airport hit 4.4 million helped by a 7.7% rise in December to 202,757.
Bournemouth airport handled 707,168 passengers in 2015, of which 31,427 came in December.
Last month was Manchester airport’s busiest December and Christmas on record, with 1.51 million people flying through the UK’s third biggest airport – a 5.2% increase on December 2014.
Managing director, Ken O’Toole, said: “Looking ahead, we have some very exciting new routes already confirmed to start in 2016, including to Beijing with Hainan Airlines, plus Boston and Los Angeles with Thomas Cook Airlines.
“We continue to look to expand the route network and connect the North to the rest of the world."
Stansted managing director, Andrew Harrison, said: “The last 12 months have been another exciting and transformational period for Stansted with more rapid growth in passenger numbers and a host of significant changes taking place around the airport.”
Andy Cliffe, managing director at East Midlands airport, said “2015 was a special year for East Midlands airport, as we celebrated our 50th birthday and completed the £12 million redevelopment of our terminal. Looking ahead, 2016 promises to be yet another great year.”
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