Airports in the UK recorded growing passenger numbers for the third consecutive year in 2013, according to new figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
UK airports handled 228 million passengers during 2013, up 3.5% compared with 7.8 million passengers in 2012.
This growth marks the continuation of recovery since 2011, following three years of falling passenger numbers.
Passenger numbers in 2013 were 8.5% above 2010 levels of 210 million passengers, but still 4.8% below 2007’s peak of almost 240 million passengers.
CAA regulatory policy director Iain Osborne said: "Our figures show the strength of underlying demand for air travel, which picked up well in advance of the general economy. Solid growth in UK GDP may mean that passenger numbers continue to grow healthily.
"This is happening despite a shortage of runway capacity in the South East, as for the time being airlines operating bigger and fuller aircraft is allowing passenger growth to outstrip growth in numbers of flights.
"The prospect of growth underlines how important it is for aviation to tackle its environmental impacts, notably; reducing aircraft noise and carbon emissions. Addressing these issues is vital if aviation is to grow."
London airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City and Southend together handled 140 million passengers, up 4.1% from 2012.
At other UK airports outside London, traffic increased 3.5% to 88.7 million passengers.
The majority of UK airport passengers (137 million) were travelling to or from Europe, representing an increase of 4.1% from 2012.
Air transport movements (landings and take-offs of commercial aircraft) at UK airports totalled 2 million in 2013, up 1% from 2012 but still 14% below the 2007 peak of 2.3 million.