East Midlands Airport recorded its busiest year on record in 2008, despite the tough economic climate.
More than 5.6 million passengers used the airport at Castle Donington in Leicestershire - an increase of nearly 4% over 2007.
But passenger numbers declined in November and December, and the airport expects the trend to continue in 2009.
Airport managing director Penny Coates said the figures were "a great achievement" for the airport.
Seven new destinations were introduced in 2008 by operators; bmi, bmibaby, Manx2 and Ryanair.
"Despite the anticipated decline in passenger numbers during these challenging times, which affect both the airport and our airline partners, we remain committed to improving the customer experience and our facilities," Mrs Coates said.
She said the airport was striving to "take full advantage of the economic recovery" when it arrives.
"These figures are a great achievement for us and are evidence that the efforts we have made to improve the East Midlands Airport experience for our customers have been successful."