LONDON (AP) -- British airports handled 217 million passengers last year, an increase of 8 percent on the figure for 2003, according to industry figures released Monday.
The Civil Aviation Authority said the majority of passengers on international flights last year traveled to Europe; the number of passengers on flights to or from European countries totaled 122 million, 7 percent higher than in 2003.
Some 21 million people traveled on flights to or from North America - an increase of 9 percent - but that was still short of the 23 million reported in 2000, the year before the Sept. 11 airborne terror attacks on the United States, the CAA said.
The CAA reported that passenger traffic at the five main London airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City - grew by 7 percent last year to a total of 129 million passengers.
Traffic at Britain's regional airports increased 9 percent last year to 88 million. Of the 10 largest regional airports, the fastest growing was Newcastle in northeast England, where passenger numbers rose 21 percent to 4.72 million.
UK airports handled 6% more passengers last year despite holiday airlines enjoying their smallest share of the market for 20 years.
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In all, 850,887 travelers boarded and got off planes at the airport in April, up 20,242 from April 2005.