Manchester Airport delivers strong summer recovery with passenger numbers up around 430 per cent on previous year
Manchester Airport is well-placed to continue its strong recovery, as Northern hub revealed a positive performance in the first half of the financial year.
Figures announced today for the period April-September show that MAG (Manchester Airports Group), which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports, served 30.5 million passengers during what was the first full summer season since the removal of travel Covid-19 travel restrictions.
That represented 84% of pre-Covid traffic and compared with 6.6 million passengers handled during the same period in 2021.
At Manchester, 14.3 million passengers travelled through between April and September, up from 2.7 million across the same period last year. Throughout the summer season, the airport was focused on improving the experience it delivered to passengers following a period of operational disruption, having now recruited the optimal number of security staff across its three terminals.
Direct long-haul routes from Manchester to destinations including North America, the Middle East and the Caribbean continue to prove popular with passengers. In September, Emirates announced it would recommence its third daily service to Dubai - returning the airline to its pre-pandemic capacity at Manchester. In August, Hainan Airlines resumed its service to Beijing, which prior to the pandemic provided direct connectivity between the North and mainland China, helping to support international trade and wider economic growth.
With three US routes having returned to Manchester over the summer, the airport is engaging with airline partners to secure the resumption of services to other US destinations, including San Francisco and Boston. The airport also has ambitions to introduce other new long-haul routes, including direct services to India, which had been planned prior to the pandemic.
The airport has also seen a marked improvement in operational performance, following a period of disruption in the months following the removal of Covid-19 travel restrictions. In November, 97% of passengers passed through security in less than 15 minutes.
A successful Group-wide recruitment drive, which commenced in late 2021, has been central to the improvements. Since then, more than 2,000 new colleagues have joined MAG. Of the total figure, more than 1,000 new starters have joined as Security Officers – with over 700 of those based at Manchester. Seasonal recruitment cycles are continuing across the business, ensuring that all three of MAG’s airports are well resourced as they approach next summer’s peak.
For the first six months of the year, MAG recorded an operating profit of £22.8 million, compared with losses of £75.7 million during the same period last year, whilst revenues increased by £158.7 million to £538.8 million.
MAG’s positive performance was driven by a rebound in low-cost travel, which at points exceeded 2019 traffic levels, and by direct long-haul routes to North America and the Middle East which have continued to recover on a positive trajectory in recent months. MAG’s decision not to impose capacity restrictions on its airlines over the summer period also contributed to the strong performance, allowing carriers to meet strong passenger demand.
Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said: “These half-year results reflect the strong recovery in passenger numbers we have seen since travel restrictions were removed earlier this year.
“After a challenging period for our operation at the beginning of the summer season, I am proud of the progress we have made, and continue to make in delivering a positive experience for our passengers.
“Currently 99% of passengers are passing through security in less than 15 minutes, and we are committed to ensuring this level of performance continues over the winter period and into next summer.
“I would like to thank colleagues for their hard work and commitment to our airport over the last six months, and look forward to continuing our work together as we head into the new year.”
Throughout this period, MAG has continued to play an industry leading role in efforts to decarbonise aviation. To support the publication of the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy in July, the Group issued five new Jet Zero pledges – with commitments across education, research, sustainable fuels and air space modernisation.
In a landmark moment, Manchester Airport recently announced its partnership with HyNet – which is aimed at making it the first UK airport with a direct supply of hydrogen fuel from the mid-2030s. This means the UK’s third largest airport is making projects towards the supply of both Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and hydrogen – which will both play a vital role in allowing airlines to operate low and zero emissions flights in the future. MAG’s commitment on SAF was announced last year in partnership with Fulcrum Bioenergy UK.
MAG also recent published its annual CSR Report for 2021/22 in which it announced a new wholesale commitment to creating the next generation of aviation talent through the MAG Connect programme. The scheme is aiming to support 60,000 young people through the Group’s Aerozone facilities and 7,500 job seekers through its onsite Academies by 2025.