Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has reported a 6.7 per cent growth in passenger numbers for the year to 31 March, driving a 5.6 per cent increase in pre-tax earnings.

Passenger numbers at Stansted grew 7.4 per cent to 26.1 million, which MAG claims makes it the fastest-growing airport in the UK. It now handles 7.6 million more passengers than it did when MAG acquired it in 2013. It says new long-haul routes to New York, Boston, Washington and Dubai boosted the increase in traffic.

Manchester, which is now one of Europe’s top 20 airports, saw a 6.5 per cent increase to 27.9 million passengers, again aided by new long-haul routes to Mumbai, Seattle and Addis Ababa.

East Midlands airport remains one of the UK’s busiest for cargo aircraft, experiencing a 9.7 per cent increase in tonnage. Passenger numbers were also up 3.8 per cent to 4.9 million.

MAG is currently investing in its airports’ facilities to prepare for future growth, spending £150 million on a project at Manchester that began in July 2017.

Stansted has applied for permission to raise its passenger numbers cap from 35 million to 43 million per year, which it says will be done without increasing the number of flights or its noise footprint past permissible limits.

Meanwhile, Stansted has started work on the initial phase of an investment programme that will deliver new check-in desks, additional aircraft stands and expanded retail facilities.

MAG also runs for Escape Lounges in the US, with a fifth due to open this autumn.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of MAG, commented: “Manchester and London Stansted are the two largest UK airports with significant runway capacity and our investment will allow us to meet continued demand for aviation growth both in and out of the UK.

“The government’s support for airports looking to make the best use of existing capacity provides a clear framework for growth, and it is critical that it now matches its backing for Heathrow expansion with specific and practical proposals to improve rail access and maximise the potential of airports like Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands.

“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, we are confident that the UK government and the EU recognise the importance of providing confidence to passengers and airlines, and we welcome the commitment from both sides to putting in place a framework that will enable air services to continue post-Brexit.

“Looking forward, our resilient foundations, healthy financial position and attractiveness of our UK airports will ensure that the business is well-placed to respond to any challenges that may be felt by the UK economy in the future and we continue to take a positive long-term view of our prospects for growth.”

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