Gatwick reported handling 44 million passengers in the 12 months to Saturday April 8, a new record for the airport and for any single runway airport in the world.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, declared the airport to be “booming” and said long-haul services have driven much of the growth.

Passenger traffic in March was up 8.4% on 2016 to 3.3 million, marking the 49th consecutive month of traffic growth.

Long-haul traffic to North America was up 37% year on year in March, primarily due to expansion by low-cost long-haul carrier Norwegian.

Wingate said: “We’ve just hit 44 million passengers a year – a world record for a single runway airport – and a mark that some predicted we would not hit until 2035.

“Our passengers continue to show confidence in foreign travel, particularly to the growing number of long-haul destinations Gatwick now serves.

“We launched 20 new long-haul routes last year and more will start this summer, including to Seattle, Denver and Xi’an – our third destination in China – with our Hong Kong service also going daily.

“This growth is also driving up the amount of cargo flown from Gatwick. We’ve seen a 34% increase in cargo this month alone.”

Gatwick lost out to Heathrow as the Government’s chosen option for a new runway, but Wingate suggested he has not given up, saying: “Gatwick offers a credible and deliverable option for runway expansion.”