Stansted’s busiest December helped the airport to a record breaking 2016.

More than 1.85 million passengers used the Essex airport last month, up by 146,000 and 8.5% on last year.

The figure broke the previous record for December of 1.76 million passengers set in 2006.

Over 24.3 million passengers used the UK’s fourth busiest airport in 2016, beating the previous high of 23.8 million set in 2007.

The top five countries reporting the strongest growth were Italy (+429,895), Scotland (+333,940), Spain (+251,995), Poland (+169,354) and Germany (+154,814).

The most popular destinations were Edinburgh (+214,336), Berlin (+124,112), Glasgow (+119,069), Rome (+84,920) and Faro (+79,865).

Stansted chief executive Andrew Cowan said: “We are now serving more passengers than at any time in the airport’s history, adding over 1.75 million passengers in the last year alone, but doing it in a more efficient and sustainable way that has enabled us to beat the previous passenger record set in 2007 but with 25,000 fewer flights.

“We want to provide passengers from the east of England and across north and east London with the routes and choice they demand so I’m delighted we’ve been able to work closely with our airline partners to launch a host of new services and increase frequency to key destinations.

“We’ve seen positive growth from many of our airlines, particularly Ryanair who experienced a fantastic year and added 1.5 million passengers, and 2016 also saw British Airways start flights from Stansted for the very first time as well as the announcement that Jet2 will open its first base in the south of England this summer.

“To keep pace with demand, and in a year in which we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Stansted’s iconic terminal building, I’m also pleased we’ve been able to unveil exciting plans for a new £130 million arrivals building to cater for the growing numbers of passengers and further improve the passenger experience at Stansted.”