The boss of Heathrow today pledged to continue to work to reduce noise levels as passenger numbers rose by 4.7% in May to 6.1 million.

The emergency landing by a British Airways Airbus on May 24 does not appear to have affected overall passenger numbers, despite a raft of flight cancellations.

“Overall passenger numbers do not appear to have been impacted by the operational disruption; however the average load factor and aircraft size is likely to be higher with passengers on cancelled services rebooked onto later flights,” the airport said.

“Operations responded to the emergency landing by reopening the runway as quickly as possible and assisting the airlines with looking after their passengers.”

The average number of passengers on each flight rose to almost 152, equating to a load factor of 74.7%, up 1.1% on May last year. The average number of seats per aircraft was up 3.8% to 202.9.

Last month saw the publication of ‘A Quieter Heathrow’, which set out the hub’s commitments to cutting aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity. It included new commitments on noise which include publicly ranking airlines on noise performance, trialling new departure routes and proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits.

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews, said: “May saw another rise in the number of passengers travelling through Heathrow. More and more of them are being carried by newer, quieter aircraft which we incentivise to use the airport.

“This month we released ‘A Quieter Heathrow’, which showed that even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are now affected by noise.

“We will continue to work to further reduce aircraft noise whilst safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides.”

Passenger growth was across most markets last month, with transatlantic traffic up by 3.6% and European short haul passengers up 6.9%. This included double digit growth in Italy (+13.5%), France (+12.2%) and the Holland (+15.6%).

Traffic to and from the Bric economies was up 11.7%, with notable growth in India (+17.7%) and China (+13.7%).