GLASGOW Airport suffered a downturn in domestic passenger numbers in September as the Ryanair cancellation controversy reduced the number of flights between Glasgow and Stansted. But the scandal, which saw the Irish airline cancel thousands of flights over problems with its pilot rosters, failed to stop the airport recording its busiest ever September.

Glasgow, which yesterday announced the departure of long-serving managing director Amanda McMillan, reported a 4.7 per cent drop in domestic passengers in September. It said 362,861 travellers passed through en route to locations within the UK over the month, compared with 380,657 in September last year. Ryanair operates three flights a day connecting Glasgow with Stansted in the south-east of England.

However Glasgow Airport said international passenger numbers were up 10.2 per cent in September compared with the same month last year at 610,082. That came amid a 15 per cent increase in scheduled services to destinations within the European Union, reflecting additional capacity and strong demand for flights to cities such as Milan, Brussels, Valencia and Lisbon. The airport said passenger numbers on long-haul routes were up 10 per cent, thanks in part to the popularity of Emirates’ twice-daily flight to Dubai. International traffic was also boosted by strong demand for transatlantic routes to New York, Toronto and Vancouver.

In overall terms, including domestic and international flights, passenger numbers rose by 4.1 per cent to 972,943.

Edinburgh Airport also reported a downturn in domestic passenger numbers as it highlighted its busiest September on record. But while domestic numbers slid by 0.8 per cent to 455,380, international traffic soared by 14.1 per cent to 836,260, which the airport said reflects the ongoing appeal of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole in tourism terms. Edinburgh saw Ryanair flights to Stansted cancelled at the time of the controversy around the Irish airline, but was still running around 50 other flights a day to London airports. Overall passenger numbers at Edinburgh were up 8.4 per cent at 1.29 million.

Aberdeen Airport said passenger numbers increased year on year for a fifth month in a row in September, having risen 3.9 per cent to 284,899. However while international and domestic fixed-wing traffic was up, helicopter passenger numbers remained down year on year.