Heathrow Airport has said it has recorded its busiest month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The west London hub said it was used by 4.2m passengers in March – representing almost an eight-fold increase on the total during the same month in 2021.
In February 2020, just before the pandemic caused people to stay at home, it was used by 5.4m.
Demand was driven by outbound leisure travel at weekends and during school holidays, the airport said.
A spike in coronavirus-related staff absences, combined with difficulties finding and passing security checks for new recruits, means the aviation sector has struggled to cope with the number of people flying in recent weeks.
Heathrow admitted "resources are stretched" but described how it was "working closely with airlines and ground handlers to make sure this increase in demand can be met while keeping passengers safe".
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "It is fantastic to see the airport coming back to life after two years, and I want to thank all team Heathrow colleagues for working together to serve our passengers.
"Everyone at Heathrow is doing everything we can to make sure passengers get on their way as smoothly and safely as possible."
The rise in passengers was attributed to the government's removal of all coronavirus travel restrictions.
Heathrow warned there was "congestion in check-in areas at peak times" as "half of global markets" still require passengers to pass coronavirus checks such as testing and vaccination status.
Departing passengers are advised to check with their airline to confirm when they should arrive at the airport.
It added that "other airport processes are currently working to plan".
The airport said it was working with Border Force to "ensure sufficient levels of resource are in place to cope with the large number of passengers returning to the UK over the next couple of weeks".
Meanwhile, new figures show the west London hub slipped from being the second busiest airport for international travel before the pandemic, to number seven in 2021.
Airports Council International said Heathrow was used by 17.6m international passengers last year, down 77% on the total for 2019.
Dubai maintained its spot at the top of the rankings.
The five airports to overtake Heathrow in 2021 were Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Doha.
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