Gatwick Airport recorded its busiest ever May, as long-haul destinations and a sharp increase in business passenger traffic helped the hub to record its 51st consecutive month of growth.

Over four million passengers passed through Britain's second biggest airport last month, a 6.7% year-on-year increase, while the number of business passengers hit an all-time high of 782,000. The sharp rate of growth was attributed to the over 50 long haul routes connecting the airport with destinations across the world.

Flights between Gatwick and North America proved to be particularly popular, with the 15 destinations served across Canada and the US reporting a combined 13% increase in traffic from the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

The number of passengers flying to Fort Lauderdale surged 125% year-on-year, while Los Angeles and Calgary recorded a 48% and 43% increase in traffic respectively.

The airport's long haul network is set to grow further when Norwegian's service connecting Gatwick to Singapore - which will be the world's longest low cost long haul route – launches in September, with the airline also starting new services to both Seattle and Denver in the same month.

"There is real momentum behind Gatwick's growth as records tumble month after month," said Gatwick's chief executive Stewart Wingate.

Our continued growth shows that we are an airport that delivers for everyone whether travelling for business or leisure and flying short or long haul, Gatwick has a choice of airlines and destinations unrivalled in the UK.

"The airport's long haul network has grown significantly and the results benefit both leisure passengers and also the country as global trade becomes increasingly important for the UK economy.

The increase in the number of passengers was reflected in a higher load factor - a key gauge in the aviation industry, which measures the amount seats filled on an aircraft - which rose from 83.1% to 85%.

Meanwhile, the amount of cargo handled by the airport was also up 18.9%, with long haul flights again driving the growth.

Last year, Gatwick lost out to Heathrow Airport in the battle to be chosen for expansion, but Wingate said the airport remained ready to build a new runway.

"Gatwick stands ready to build a credible and deliverable new runway should the Government give us the green light to proceed," he added.