Manchester Airports Group has sold Bournemouth airport to Rigby Group for an undisclosed price.

Bournemouth will now form part of Rigby’s airport management division Regional & City Airports (RCA) which has already acquired three regional UK airports: Norwich, Exeter and Coventry.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, said: “”Bournemouth Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.

“RCA has a detailed integration plan in place to ensure a seamless transition of ownership and operations at Bournemouth which will maintain business as usual for passengers and customers.”

Bournemouth airport is currently a base for Ryanair and tour operator TUI with flights to 22 destinations in Europe. RCA plans to grow passengers numbers under its ownership.

Rigby Group chairman Sir Peter Rigby said: “The acquisition of Bournemouth airport represents an important landmark in our strategy to create a robust and credible group of regional airport assets and services across the UK.

“Not only does it expand our catchment to include the major regions of South England, but also focuses operations on a core market poorly serviced by the major aviation players.”

Meanwhile, MAG, which will continue to own Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, recorded a 9.1 per cent increase in passengers to 34.9m for the six months to September 30 compared with the same period in 2016.

Stansted saw the biggest rise in passenger numbers with a 9.8 per cent increase to 14.6 million, while Manchester’s passenger traffic rose 9.2 per cent to 16.6 million. East Midlands’ passenger traffic went up by 3.2 per cent to 3.2 million.

MAG’s overall revenue increased by 12.9 per cent year-on-year to £544.6 million for the six-month period. Operating profit was also up by 9.9 per cent to £159.9 million.

“Our latest results demonstrate that MAG is a strong and resilient business that is confident in its future growth prospects, and one that through the significant investment it is making is demonstrating its commitment to meeting long term customer needs,” said Cornish.

“As we grow we are committing considerable investment to enhancing the look, feel and operation of our airports. In addition, the transformational projects at both Manchester and Stansted will deliver the larger terminal facilities needed for us to make better use of our spare runway capacity.”

MAG has also launched a new technology and e-commerce division, MAG-O, which aims to “overhaul” the customer experience at the group’s three airports.

The division has recruited 65 staff including software developers, designers, system architects and user-experience specialists to work on modernising the group’s customer services.

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