EasyJet today pledged to raise Scottish capacity by 30% next year if the Edinburgh government confirms plans to halve Air Passenger Duty.

This came as the low cost airline revealed record passenger carryings to and from Scotland in 2016 – more than any airline has ever flown in one year.

Numbers rose by 11% over 2015 to more than 6.4 million, including a record two million business travellers.

Edinburgh accounted for just over 3.6 million passengers with Glasgow accounting for more than 2 million. Inverness and Aberdeen accounted for around 480,000 passengers and 231,000 respectively.

Further growth is planned for 2017 with a 5% rise in available seats to more than 7.4 million.

The airline will also position a second A320 in Glasgow from March and will also retrofit its current Glasgow-based A320 to a 186-seat configuration.

A new route between Edinburgh and Bilbao is being introduced in April with twice weekly flights.

The airline’s UK director Sophie Dekkers said: “This growth can continue well into the future if the Scottish government continues with its plans to cut Air Passenger Duty by 50% for all flights from Scotland.

“If the Scottish government confirms soon that this reduction will take effect from April 2018 we would expect to increase easyJet services by around 30%.”

She added: “As Scotland’s largest airline carrying more than 6 million passengers annually, we offer an unrivalled network of over 60 routes served from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

“We remain committed to growing in Scotland and easyJet not only supports Scottish tourism and business travel but also ensures it is easy and affordable for Scots to have direct air links to so many European destinations.

“Scotland’s appeal as both a leisure and business destination stretches beyond Europe and in calendar year 2016 over 100,000 bookings were made by passengers from outside Europe on routes involving Scottish airports. Of those over 37,000 were from the United States and over 8,000 from the Far East including 2,000 from China.”

The airline operates 840 flights in and out of Scotland a week in peak summer on a network covering 44 airports in 18 countries.