Heathrow Airport welcomed a record number of 17.7 million passengers in the first quarter of this year.
The figure is up 3.1 per cent on last year, with over 200,000 people passing through the airport each day in the period January to March, airport statistics showed.
Long-haul travel was the key geographic driver of traffic growth increasing 3.5%, with notable growth on routes serving Mumbai, Tokyo and Guangzhou.
According to the west London airport’s data, flights to South America saw the largest increase in passengers with numbers rising 6.9 per cent.
Europe remained the most popular destination with more than 7.2 million passengers travelling to the continent, though services here grew at a slower rate than average.
John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer of Heathrow, said: “We’re delighted that passengers are choosing Heathrow in record numbers – it’s is a strong signal that we’re delivering value for money.
“We’re within touching distance of Parliament voting on expanding Heathrow and now more than ever we’re committed to developing and delivering a hub airport that Britain can be proud of for generations to come.”
Heathrow’s third runway
Europe’s largest airport has been operating at 98 per cent capacity for a decade, with talks regarding expansion and the addition of a third runway currently underway.
The Department for Transport has stipulated “a runway length of at least 3,500m and enabling at least 260,000 additional air transport movements per annum” – an increase of 54 per cent on today’s figure.
The government has said it will publish a final Airports National Policy Statement for a vote in the House of Commons before the summer recess.
If plans for a third runway are given the go-ahead, it would be fully open by 2026.