STANSTED airport today reported its first annual month-on-month increase in passenger numbers of 2012.

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The airport handled nearly 1.192million passengers in November, an increase 6.2% on the same month last year.

And cargo tonnage at Stansted remained solidly in growth, with November’s total up by 16.5% compared with a year earlier.

Last month’s increase in passenger numbers means that Stansted’s total for the year to date is now 3.8% down compared with the same stage of 2011, at 16.232million. The shortfall to the end of October was 4.5%.

Similarly, Stansted’s rolling 12-month passenger total of 17.409million is now 3.7% down on the previous 12-months, compared with a 4.6% fall for the 12 months to October.

A spokesman at Stansted said today: “November is the first month of the winter flight schedule but we’ve seen more aircraft operating than this time last year and higher average load factors (on each plane) than a year ago. We’ve also seen some popular new routes commence, so this has all helped push passenger numbers up 6.2% compared to the same month last year.

“Stansted’s worldwide cargo operation continues to perform very well, up 5.2% in the last 12 months, despite the difficult economic conditions. During the month, nearly 20,000 tonnes of goods and products passed through the cargo facilities, up 16.5% on the corresponding month last year,” he added.

Stansted owner BAA announced in August that it was abandoning its long-running legal battle against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell the Essex airport.

The following month, the company – which is owned by a consortium led by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial – announced that it was dropping the BAA name, which each of its airports (which also include Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen) operating in future as stand-alone brands.

Today’s figures show that Heathrow enjoyed a record-breaking month in November, with the UK’s largest airport handling 5.381million passengers, 3.1% up on November 2011 and its best November ever.

Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen achieved growth of 3.7%, 5.3% and 4.8% respectively.

Colin Matthews, formerly head of BAA and now chief executive for Heathrow, said there was demand for airtravel which the UK was failing to meet because Heathrow, its only “hub airport” was full.

“Last month we launched our first response to the Government’s (Davies) Airports Commission, which is looking into this lack of capacity,” he added.

“It concluded there are just three options for government – do nothing, expand Heathrow, or close Heathrow and open a new hub airport elsewhere.”

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