PASSENGER numbers at Southampton Airport rose 18.5 per cent in April on the back of later Easter getaways.

The airport handled 143,700 passengers in April 2011, airport operator BAA said.

However the numbers of passengers passing through the airport between May 2010 and April 2011 were down 1.5 per cent on a year earlier at 1.74 million.

Overall, BAA's six UK airports handled 9.1 million passengers in April 2011 - more than 31 per cent up on the April 2010 total which was badly affected by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud crisis.

The numbers were boosted by the Easter holiday season falling entirely in April this year and by the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding.

Heathrow numbers last month were 31.5 per cent up on April 2010 making it its busiest ever April, while Stansted was up 26.2 per cent, Glasgow increased 27.1 per cent, Edinburgh soared 43.9 per cent and Aberdeen was up 33.2 per cent.

Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, formerly run by BAA and now operated by American organisation Global Infrastructure Partners, also had a record April.

The airport handled just under 2.76 million passengers last month - a 34.2 per cent rise on the April 2010 total.