More than 1.15million passengers passed through Stansted Airport last month, an increase of 7.2 per cent compared with January 2013.

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The figure took the rolling annual total for the year to the end of January to 17.92m, a rise of 2.6pc over the previous 12 months.

This figure represents a further improvement on the annual growth of 2.2pc recorded by Stansted for the year to the end of December, which marked its first full calendar year of growth since 2007.

January’s increase represents a fifth consecutive monthly rise in numbers at Stansted, with the rate of growth not far behind the 7.7pc acheived the previous month which was the airport’s busiest December for four years.

The upturn in passenger numbers at Stansted follows its acquisition early last year by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) from the former BAA company, which fought a lengthy battle against a Competition Commission ruling requiring it to sell the Essex airport.

MAG has already signed new long-term agreements with low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet − both of which have also reported strong growth during January − as part of a strategy to increase Stansted’s annual passenger total to 30m over the next 10 years.

Work has also begun on a multi-million refit of the main passenger terminal at Stansted, which saw a new, enlarged security area come into use last month, in time for the pre-Christmas get-away in December.

Andrew Harrison, Stansted’s managing director, said: “The increased number of passengers using Stansted this January compared to last year is a good start to 2014 and a signal of the airport’s future potential.

“Our £80million terminal transformation project continues at great pace with customers already enjoying improvements to the security area of the terminal with even more changes to come.

“We are also set to welcome a host of new routes to our network in the coming weeks and months that will offer passengers even greater choice of destinations from Stansted.

“The aviation market in the south-east has never been as competitive as it is right now, and to sustain long-term growth we will need to exceed the expectations of our existing carriers and fight hard to win new business and passengers.”

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