London Gatwick Airport in the UK served 2.2 million passengers in January, an increase of 6.6% compared with 2.09 million passengers during the corresponding period in 2013.
Passenger traffic to European routes recorded the largest growth, with about 1.4 million passengers flying to leading European destinations, representing a year-over-year increase of 0.8%.
The growth was driven by flights to key business routes with destinations as diverse as Stockholm, Istanbul, Moscow and Copenhagen.
However, this was offset by fewer passengers on charter flights to European leisure destinations, indicating the longer-term market shift towards scheduled, low cost airlines.
Long-haul growth increased by 11.3%, primarily due to the increases on leisure routes such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, which was complemented by growth on long haul business routes such as to Dubai.
London Gatwick CFO Nick Dunn said: "We saw steady growth to Europe in January, which is by far the dominant market for business and leisure passengers travelling from London and the South East.
"Alongside European growth however, we continue to see strong performance in long haul travel, particularly on established routes to the Middle East, Far East and the Indian Sub-Continent.
"Next month we will be welcoming Emirates’ daily A380 services to Dubai and Air China’s flights to Beijing to further strengthen these routes and provide even greater choice and convenience for passengers."
Traffic to North America fell by 13.4%, primarily due to US Airways’ seizure of services from London Gatwick earlier in 2013.
However, the launch of three new direct Norwegian services to the US, which include New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, in this summer is expected drive the transatlantic traffic.
On domestic routes, passenger traffic to Belfast, Glasgow and the Isle of Man were offset by the withdrawal of the Manchester route.
During January, air transport movements at the airport increased 6.7% to 17,132t when compared with 16,058t during January 2013, while cargo traffic decreased 12% to 6,446t when compared with 7,323t during January 2013.
Load factors, which indicate how full the average flight was, stood at 75.2%, in line with the prior year.
Image: In January 2014, Gatwick Airport witnessed a record increase in European flights on key business routes. Photo: courtesy of Gatwick Airport Limited.