Heathrow Airport
Heathrow said it welcomed a record 76 million passengers last year Getty

Heathrow said it welcomed a record 76 million passengers last year, meaning that on average 223,500 people a day passed through London's main airport.

It said passenger numbers were 1% up on last year, driven by use of larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and A350 and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The airport, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, was chosen by the government in October as its preferred option for increasing runway capacity in south-east England.

Its proposed third runway will be the first full-length runway in the south east since the Second World War.

However, Prime Minister Theresa May's government will begin a year of consultation on the long-delayed project, which is not expected to conclude until the end of this year.

Heathrow also said that 1.5 million tonnes of cargo passed through the hub, equivalent to 118,000 London buses.

The airport added that the total the number of flights rose by 0.2% to 473,231 last year.

The biggest rise in demand for flights came from the Middle East, which rose by 8.8%, the Asia-Pacific market was up 2.8% and demand from European routes increased by 1.8%. However, domestic travel within the UK from the west London airport was down by 9.6%.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "Heathrow celebrated 70 years as the country's front door in 2016 and I'm proud that we were able to end this year on such a high note."

He added that the airport continued to play an important role in "increasing Britain's trade with the rest of the world".