THE number of passengers flying to and from Stansted airport is at an all time high.

More than 28 million people passed through the airport terminal in 2018, an increase of 2.1 million from the previous year.

The recent Christmas period did little to halt the upward curve, with two million passengers using Stansted last month to make it the airport’s busiest ever December.

Airport CEO Ken O’Toole says the record breaking figures demonstrate the efforts being made to make Stansted an “attractive” facility for holidaymakers.

He said: “The strong passenger growth we once again experienced during 2018, and the achievement of passing the 28 million passenger milestone for the first time in a 12-month period, reflects our clear commitment to re-invigorate the airport and make it more attractive to airlines and passengers.

“Stansted was the fastest growing major airport in the UK during 2018, and one of the fastest growing across Europe, and we are confident we will continue to grow passenger numbers and provide even more choice of airlines and destinations, including building on our work to secure more long-haul services to destinations across China, India and the USA.”

Stansted welcomed six new airlines in 2018, including Emirates, which runs a daily service to Dubai.

Smaller budget airlines such as Ryanair and also increased the number of destinations they fly to from Stansted.

Plans to build a brand new £150m terminal moved a step forward last week when airport bosses awarded a construction contract to Mace, which will now be responsible for installing the new 39,000 square metre arrival facilities.

Ground on the terminal is due to be broken in spring this year and is scheduled for completion by autumn 2020.

Mr O’Toole added: “The year ahead will also be significant for our £600 million airport transformation project. We have already made great progress but, as we begin the construction phase of our new arrivals building later this spring, we will really see the flagship development of the project take shape.

“We have built real momentum behind our vision for Stansted and, given the strong economic performance of our region, our available runway capacity and investment in new facilities, the airport’s future is very bright.”