GLASGOW Airport enjoyed its busiest July in six years, handling more than 840,000 passengers last month as the city hosted the Commonwealth Games, the latest figures show.
Rival Edinburgh Airport meanwhile claimed a fresh monthly record for a Scottish airport as its July passenger numbers topped 1.1 million.
Glasgow Airport, part of the Heathrow Airport Holdings operation which was known formerly as BAA and has Ferrovial of Spain as a major shareholder, yesterday declared a July passenger total of 841,138, up by 1.1 per cent on the same month of last year.
It highlighted its expectation that the start of operations at Glasgow by budget airline Ryanair in October would add more than 850,000 passengers per year, returning the airport to pre-recession levels. Ryanair will fly to destinations including Stansted and Dublin from Glasgow.
The year-on-year growth in passenger numbers at Glasgow Airport in July was driven by international traffic.
International passenger numbers at Glasgow last month totalled 504,148 - up by 1.8 per cent on July last year. Domestic passenger numbers came in at 336,990 in July, up by just 51 on the figure of 336,939 for the same month of last year.
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: "To have recorded our busiest July in six years was extremely pleasing but it was a memorable month for so many reasons. From a route development perspective, we made a number of significant announcements, none more so than the news Ryanair will join us in October."
She added: "The highlight, however, was serving as the gateway to the Commonwealth Games, which were a resounding success. It has always been the case that when the city does well, the airport does well and with events such as the World Pipe Band Championships, the Ryder Cup and MTV European Music Awards all still to come, both the city and the airport have much to look forward to."
Airline Jet2 yesterday outlined plans to expand its operations at Glasgow, with the introduction of flights from the airport to Prague in the Czech Republic, and services to Antalya in Turkey, Larnaca in Cyprus and Malta.
Ms McMillan noted that, in its three years at Glasgow, Jet2 had created more than 240 jobs at the airport.
Edinburgh Airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, said yesterday that it had handled 1,104,264 passengers in July, up by 1.8 per cent on the same month of last year. It highlighted the fact that it was the first airport in Scottish history to reach the "milestone" of handling 1.1m passengers in a single month.
Back in summer 2004, Glasgow became the first airport in Scotland to handle more than one million passengers in a month.
Edinburgh Airport achieved its 1.1m passenger level even though its domestic numbers, at 443,044 in July, were down by 1.3 per cent on the same month of last year. International passenger numbers at Edinburgh totalled 661,220 last month, up by four per cent on July last year.
Edinburgh Airport said international traffic had been driven by Scots flying off on their annual summer holidays to traditional sunshine destinations such as Portugal, mainland Spain and Majorca. It added that a handful of Thomson charter services to Cancun in Mexico and Florida in the US had also increased the flow of international passengers.
Aberdeen International Airport, which is also owned by Heathrow Airport Holdings and has been put up for sale along with Glasgow, reported passenger numbers of 366,562 for July. This was up by 9.2 per cent on the same month of last year.
Highlighting the broadly-based nature of the year-on-year growth in passenger numbers at Aberdeen in July, managing director Carol Benzie said: "This is incredibly encouraging and shows yet again the buoyancy of the region. We have recently seen increased local passengers going on their summer holidays, and increased inbound tourists looking to experience our beautiful region. Combining this with growth in business traffic and helicopters provides a real boost to the airport and to the traffic numbers."