British Airways' takeover of rival airline BMI led to fuller and larger planes taking off and landing at Heathrow last month, taking the airport's passengers numbers up to a record 4.85 million.
That was 1 per cent more than in February 2012, and adjusting for the fact that last year was a leap year traffic rose 4.6 per cent last month. European traffic was up 4.4 per cent, particularly Italy, Portugal and Germany.
Passengers travelling to and from China rose 30 per cent, and demand for Middle Eastern routes rose 6.2 per cent. But the number of people flying to North America and Latin America fell and cargo was down 4.3 per cent on last February, in line with global trends.
Heathrow is full to capacity so it cannot have more flights. It can only expand by hosting larger jets. Chief executive Colin Matthews, campaigning for a third runway, said it needs new routes to emerging economies which would boost UK trade.