Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has reported its three UK airports served 2.7 million travellers in October; figures represent just 51% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers compared to October 2019.
Latest reported passenger numbers from the group, which represents Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, reveal that the six months to the end of October 2021 have seen passenger numbers consistently increase, with October being the first month since February 2020 when both Manchester and Stansted recorded over one million passengers each.
Analysis by MAG has suggested that the sharp rise in passenger numbers recording in October (up 22% on the previous month) can be attributed to further easing of Covid-19 restrictions on travel, a reduce in cost for virus testing, and a boost to demand due to the October half-term school holidays.
The positive trend is expected to continue in the lead up to the festive season. Leisure travel between the UK and the US resumed on 8th November in a significant moment for the revival of the aviation industry. Manchester Airport’s Virgin Atlantic services to New York and Orlando restarted on the first day after the relaxation, with the Singapore Airlines service to Houston set to return in early December. Aer Lingus is also launching new services to New York, Orlando and Boston later this month, having established a new base at Manchester which is already operating flights to Barbados.
As the North’s Global Gateway, Manchester Airport served 1.6 million passengers travelling direct to the US each year before the pandemic and is currently expecting to welcome back approximately half of its pre-pandemic routes to America in the first month of the transatlantic restart. The airport is also working with airlines to resume the remaining services as soon as possible.
London Stansted’s broad range of direct connections across Europe has made its recovery the strongest amongst major UK airports. Traffic returned to 43% of pre-pandemic levels in September, compared to 38% at London Heathrow, and 24% at London Gatwick, according to CAA data.
East Midlands airport has also had its busiest period since passenger operations resumed, and this month served over 200,000 passengers. East Midlands also recently confirmed that Ryanair would be operating 31 routes from the airport in summer 2022, which will see over 130 flights a week to popular European holiday destinations.
To ensure the recovery continues, the UK’s largest airport group is calling on the Government to set out a clear commitment and roadmap for removing all remaining restrictions on international travel in 2022. Clarity on the Government’s ambition to return to restriction-free travel as soon as possible would allow consumers and the aviation sector to look ahead to the summer season with confidence, following almost two years of shut down and uncertainty.
Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO said:
“These figures demonstrate clearly how the demand for international travel is ready and waiting for when restrictions are eased.
“It is hugely positive to have seen our traffic levels recover month on month, and the removal of costly barriers and uncertainty is giving consumers renewed confidence to get back to travel.
“We need to see this positive trend continue following the reopening of transatlantic services to the US in early November and as we continue to rebuild Manchester Airport’s network of direct long-haul connections.
“To ensure we continue on this path to a full recovery, we are calling on the Government to set out a clear ambition and plan for removing remaining restrictions on travelling abroad at the earliest opportunity.”
Cargo volumes at East Midlands airport were 8.9% higher in October compared to the same month last year, as the UK’s largest pure freight airport heads towards its busiest time over the festive period. Volumes at Manchester Airport are also up 23.6%, while London Stansted saw volumes decreased by 24.6%.