Passenger numbers at Manchester airport for March were 11% up year-on-year to 1.74 million.

This meant the airport handled more passengers than ever before in its 78-year history at 23.5 million people in the 12 months to March.

Growth was seen across all of Manchester Airports Group’s (MAG) airports last month. Stansted saw numbers rise by 13.2% to almost 1.9 million, driven by Ryanair’s growth and higher load factors.

The March figure takes the airport’s annual rolling total to 23.1 million passengers.

East Midlands airport posted a 9.1% increase in passengers to 281,480 while Bournemouth airport’s 37,210 passengers in March took its rolling 12 month total to 733,162. This represented a rise of 11.4% over the previous year and 35.8% growth compared to March 2015.

Aircraft movements in and out of Manchester airport were also up last month by 883, with 13,736 taking off and landing on the airport’s two runways.

Further expansion will come from the addition of new long haul routes including Boston, Los Angeles and Aruba in May; Miami,Hong Kong andBeijing in JunePhuket, Tobago and Mauritius in November and San Francisco in summer 2017.

Manchester airport managing director, Ken O’Toole, said: “The continued strong growth at Manchester airport is incredibly positive and benefits not only the airport and our passengers, but the entire region.

“As new routes come to fruition and passenger numbers increase, in turn jobs are created and inbound tourism spend is injected into the region.

“Manchester airport currently generates £1.7 billion in value for the north-west, supports 21,500 jobs on site and a further 45,000 indirectly and we are confident of driving more growth in the years to come.

“As we move into the summer season, we look forward to a host of new long haul routes starting, which will give our passengers more choice than ever before.

“This financial year, we will see services to Beijing, with Hainan Airlines plus Los Angeles and Boston, with Thomas Cook, begin. Plus next financial year San Francisco and Boston, with Virgin Atlantic, will launch.

“Such services are sure to prove popular with leisure travellers, as well as delivering a boost to businesses wanting access to these key markets and, as the year progresses, we look forward to securing yet more vital routes for passengers across the north.”