Passengers are choosing Spain as a year-round sun destination as an alternative to Turkey and Egypt, which have become less popular this year following terrorist attacks.

The message came from Manchester airport as it reported that more than 10% more people opted to use the north-west airport last month as the March total reached 1.9 million passengers.

The airport has added 2.7 million passengers over the past year, representing growth of 11.4%.

This was a sign that airlines and passengers are increasingly looking to fly from the UK’s third airport as Heathrow and Gatwick fill up, the airport said.

Manchester has seen more than 1.1 million additional passengers travel to Spain alone in the past year.

Four of the five destinations with the most passenger growth were Spanish, with numbers up to Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona and Tenerife in addition to Amsterdam.

France saw the second largest level of short-haul growth followed by Germany and Italy.

The most popular long-haul destinations were the US, Pakistan and China.

Long-haul growth was driven by new routes, including a new direct service to Beijing by Hainan Airlines and Singapore Airlines’ flights to Houston.

Meanwhile, increased capacity to Islamabad contributed to a surge in traffic to Pakistan.

Manchester’s recent growth has been enough to place it as the second fastest growing large airport in Europe in the most recent analysis from Airport Councils Europe.

Among airports serving more than 25 million passengers per year, only Moscow Sheremetyevo is growing faster.

Manchester airport chief executive, Ken O’Toole, said: “March rounded off a strong year of growth at Manchester, meaning we are now one of the fastest growing airports not just in the UK, but in Europe as a whole.

“It was particularly pleasing to end the month with the launch of our San Francisco service, which is a route we have long coveted and one that business and leisure passengers have been calling for some time.

“It was the latest in a long list of key long haul routes we have added over the past 12 months, ensuring we are connecting the north with key markets across the world.

“That is on top of extremely strong growth in flights to short haul locations, meaning Manchester has one of the most varied route networks in the world.

“As the summer season starts and the Easter holidays are upon us, we are looking forward to continuing growth and further additions to our list of destinations.”

March’s passenger figures at Manchester Airports Group-owned Stansted were broadly flat (down 0.8%) year-on-year.

The inaugural flights from, which has chosen Stansted as its first base in the south-east, will offer more capacity on more routes from this month.