MAG reports 225% yoy pax growth and retail jobs boost across its three hubs

By Faye Bartle |

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) served 20.5 million passengers in 2021/22, up 225% year-on-year, according to full-year results released today.

The report (for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) also revealed that the Group, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports, has seen hundreds of new staff join retailers, ground handlers and airlines operating at the three hubs since January.

This is in addition to more than 1,500 new MAG employees coming on board, who will help to deliver the ‘best possible experience’ for passengers during the busy summer months and beyond.

The return of key global markets was highlighting as playing ‘a significant role in driving the recovery of the sector’.

Taking Manchester Airport as a case in point, the resumption of services to the US in November 2021 helped to restore a series of direct long-haul connections, with services to New York, Atlanta and Orlando returning, alongside routes to the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Despite passenger numbers showing a marked increase compared to 2020/21, the results were impacted by travel restrictions that were in place for 11 months of the period, meaning passenger volumes were equivalent to 33% of 2019/20 levels.

“With travel restrictions in place for nearly all of the last 12 months, it was another uncertain and unpredictable year for MAG and the wider aviation industry,” said MAG CEO Charlie Cornish.

“After tentative steps towards recovery last autumn, the emergence of the Omicron variant once again resulted in major barriers for people looking to travel internationally.

“MAG played an industry-leading role in highlighting the ineffectiveness of international travel testing, which helped pave the way for the removal of travel restrictions in spring this year.

“Free of those restrictions, we were confident that airlines and passengers would return quickly to our airports.

“The pace of that recovery has brought its own challenges, and recruitment has taken longer and been more difficult than we anticipated.”

Manchester Airport Terminal 3 Check-in Hall

Manchester Airport Terminal 3 Check-in Hall.

With ‘fixed costs for airport operations remaining high’, MAG recorded an overall loss for 2021/22 of £320 million.

This brings MAG’s combined losses for the last two years to £694m, with revenues down by 80% in 2020/21 and 48% in 2021/22 compared to 2018/19.

Compared to last year, however, revenue and results from operations in 2021/22 were up 159% and 64% respectively.

Passenger volumes over the summer period are expected to increase to levels close to those seen in 2019.

In turn, it’s hoped that this will lead to a fuller recovery over the course of 2022/23.

The influx of new recruits has helped to improve waiting times at security.

At Manchester Airport, for example, more than 92% of passengers in June waited less than 30 minutes to pass through security.

In addition to its pax recovery, MAG reached a number of milestones over the past year.

In July 2021, it opened its Terminal 2 extension at Manchester Airport, as part of its £1 billion transformation programme.

The hub is set to become the first airport in the UK to have a direct pipeline of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, thanks to a carbon offsetting tool rolled out in October 2021.

Plus, London Stansted Airport won its planning appeal against Uttlesford District Council in May 2021, increasing the airport’s maximum passenger numbers from 35 to 43 million per year and allowing it to continue to grow sustainably.

In addition, East Midlands Airport has continued in its work to establish its Freeport status, which is expected to create 60,000 jobs across the region.

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