London Heathrow Airport served 5.8 million passengers in December 2013, up 2.8% from corresponding period in 2012.

The increase in number of passengers can be attributed to a rise in passengers flying to emerging market countries, including BRIC countries.

Overall, passenger numbers to BRIC counrties have increased by 6.1%, with China up 18.6%, India up 6.7% and Brazil up 4.4%.

The number of seats per aircraft were up 2.6%, while load factors increased by 1.3 percentage points to 76.7%, compared to last year.

The number of passengers per aircraft was also up 5.2% to 158.9.

"Our passenger figures reflect the growing demand for the long-haul destinations."

For the full-year 2013, Heathrow handled 72.3 million passengers, up 3.4% from the airport’s passenger traffic in 2012.

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During 2013 the numbers of seats per aircraft increased by 2.8% compared to 2012, while the average load factor was 76.4%, up 1 percentage point.

Passengers per aircraft also increased by 3.7% to 154.8; BRIC passenger numbers in 2013 were up 6.9% over the year.

Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews said: "Our passenger figures reflect the growing demand for the long-haul destinations only a hub airport can support.

"Yet Heathrow is full, leaving European hubs to add destinations whilst we look on.

"We are not against expansion at Gatwick, but greater point to point capacity is no substitute for new hub capacity which only Heathrow can provide."

Image: British Airways‘ aircraft at Heathrow. Photo: courtesy of Heathrow Airports Limited.