GATWICK experienced the busiest January in its history.

Some 2.8 million passengers travelled through the airport – an increase of 1.4 per cent year-on-year.

This marked the airport’s 59th consecutive month of growth.

Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said: “We’ve started 2018 as we mean to go on at Gatwick with record January passenger numbers and considerable year-on-year growth across our long-haul route network.”

As thousands of Brits travelled Stateside for a January escape, US routes saw the biggest percentage increase in passenger numbers.

Fort Lauderdale was the North American destination with the highest passenger growth rate, up 92.6 per cent on January 2017.

New York and Boston also saw significant year-on-year growth – up 51.1 per cent and 31.4 per cent – while the US West Coast proved popular too with Oakland, San Francisco up 76.6 per cent and Los Angeles up 38.6 per cent.

It wasn’t just Gatwick’s thriving American routes that pushed its long-haul growth figure to 16.8 per cent in January.

The airport’s Asia routes soared too with Hong Kong up 42.4% year-on-year.

Mr Wingate said: “January’s traffic shows that US destinations are increasingly popular and next month we’ll be providing even more options for passengers travelling Stateside with the launch of new routes to Austin and Chicago.

“These new connections will be joined this summer by British Airways’ biggest summer schedule at the airport in almost ten years – a 15 per cent increase in weekly flights compared to last year.

“As we approach five consecutive years of growth, Gatwick continues to play an increased role for Britain on the global stage and we stand ready to build our financeable and deliverable second runway scheme for the country.”

Gatwick’s growing global connectivity is having a positive effect on the volume of cargo handled by the airport.

Tonnage rose by 29.6 per cent in January as a direct result of Gatwick’s booming long-haul network which currently comprises more than 60 worldwide connections, with a new route to Buenos Aires launching next week.

Gatwick’s regional connectivity also continued to perform well last month, with Newquay, Guernsey and Glasgow the three domestic routes with the highest percentage growth.