Bristol airport saw passenger numbers rise for the second successive year in 2011, with volumes up 0.8%.
A total of 5.7 million passengers used the airport, including a record September which saw 610,000 people pass through the terminal.
December also saw a 8.8% gain over the same month in 2010, driven by an 10.8% increase in scheduled international traffic.
The rise in passengers was achieved with fewer flights, with the total number of air transport movements down by 4.1% – a decline of almost 3,000.
“This indicates airlines are operating with high load factors on larger aircraft, maximizing environmental efficiency,” a spokesman said.
New airlines at Bristol in 2011 included Blue Islands to Jersey and Helvetic Airways to Zurich. Aer Lingus launched three daily flights to Dublin, with onward connections to four US destinations, while KLM added a fourth daily flight to Amsterdam.
Work began on the construction of three new aircraft stands in November in the first phase of development plans which will enable the airport to handle 10 million passengers a year.
Aviation director Shaun Browne said: “Despite challenging conditions in the aviation sector and the wider economy, Bristol airport maintained its position as the UK’s fifth-largest airport outside London.
“We saw signs of recovery in the business travel market, and tour operators and airlines continued to offer great value flight and holiday options.
“We expect these trends to continue throughout 2012, and forecast a third successive year of growth.”
“Our key targets remain securing services to Germany and Scandinavia, and we will continue making the business case for these vital links in our discussions with existing and potential airline partners.”