Passengers using Manchester airport rose by 11% last month to almost 1.7 million to bring the rolling annual total up to a record of 26 million.

Staggered school half terms across the airport’s wider catchment area and expanded winter flying from airlines such as Ryanair, Flybe, easyJet and helped to drive the growth in February.

Continued growth in long haul traffic also helped the increase.

The extra demand saw aircraft movements go up last month by 7.2%, with more than 13,200 aircraft taking off and landing on the airport’s two full length runways.

February also saw Royal Air Maroc announce flights to Casablanca, Saudia Airlines plan a Riyadh link and Ryanair confirm a new route to Frankfurt.

This month will also see the start of direct flights to San Francisco and Boston by Virgin Atlantic.

Airport chief executive, Ken O’Toole, said: “It’s been another strong month of growth for Manchester airport and passing the 26 million passenger mark is another important milestone for us.

“Growth has been delivered across the board, reflecting the fact Manchester is now one of the world’s top 15 airports when it comes to the number of different destinations flown to.

“It is particularly pleasing to see the continued growth of our long haul network with the announcements of new routes to Casablanca and Riyadh giving the 22 million people in our catchment area even more choice.

“Looking ahead, new services to San Francisco, with both Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook, will launch shortly and deliver a boost to leisure and business passengers alike.

“We are also looking forward to pressing ahead with our £1 billion transformation programme, which will pave the way for more growth in the years to come, at the same time as providing our passengers with world class service levels.”

Cargo also saw a boost with 8,066 tonnes carried, an increase of 11.24% on February 2016. It equates to a 10% year on year increase with the annual rolling tonnage now at 115,040.