Manchester Airport Group-owned Stansted weathered slightly lower winter capacity on some short-haul routes by posting record load factors as February passenger numbers fell by 2.2% to 1.65 million year-on-year.

The Essex airport has recently signed a new growth deal with Ryanair which will see a “step change” in capacity for this summer while’s arrival this month is expected to further boost passenger numbers this year.

Mag-owned East Midlands airport grew 13.5% to 232,754 passengers and Bournemouth by 19.2% to 33,564.

Mag chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: “Manchester airport is continuing to show its importance in providing global connectivity to a wider and wider segment of the country.

“No other airport outside of London can come close to offering the range of global destinations that we offer from our two runways.

“Now is the time for government to start making concrete plans to improve access to the airport for the whole of the north.

“Businesses to the east and the west, particularly in key northern cities such as Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford and Hull, would benefit from more rapid and convenient rail links to a globally connected airport.”