Heathrow renewed its case for expansion as the airport reported a record 5.5 million passengers handled in January.
The 1% increase over January 2015 came as a result of larger, fuller aircraft with strong growth from emerging markets.
Mexico traffic was up by 21 year-on-year, China by 16%, Turkey by 5.3% and the Middle East by 4% as airlines benefited from the use of new aircraft such as Airbus A380 superjumbos.
The airport highlighted the growth potential of expansion – claiming 40 long-haul routes could be added – due to routes by Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City being switched from Gatwick and new British Airways flights to Kuala Lumpur.
The trend is set to continue with Garuda Indonesia transferring its Jakarta route to Heathrow from Gatwick in March to provide the first non-stop service from the UK to the Indonesian capital.
Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “With record passenger numbers and strong cargo volumes, it’s been a great start to 2016 for the nation’s largest port, Heathrow.
“With expansion, we’ll open up 40 new trading links which will carry more British exports to the fastest growing markets in the world.
“We’ll help the government rebalance our economy and build a better Britain. The prime minister can say yes and we will deliver.”
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