Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has served 60 million passengers in a 12-month period for the first time in its history.

The group’s Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports saw a 3.3 per cent increase in passenger numbers in September, bringing total traffic to nearly 60.2 million. These figures do not include Bournemouth airport, which was sold to RCA in December 2017.

However, Stansted was the only airport in the group to see growth during the month, with traffic increasing 9.2 per cent. MAG attributes part of the up-take to new routes to Dubai with Emirates and to Reykjavik with Wow Air, as well as strong late summer bookings to popular holiday destinations.

Manchester saw a 1.1 per cent drop in passengers to 2.8 million, while East Midlands dropped 0.4 per cent to nearly 552,000.

MAG says the downward trend at Manchester can be partially explained by the fact that Monarch Airlines was still operating in September 2017. The group expects growth to return to the hub next month when Jet Airways begins direct flights to Mumbai.

The group has also kept track of the economic benefits for the north of England since the start of flights to Beijing two years ago. It claims the region has seen 38 per cent growth in visitor numbers from China and a 94 per cent increase in average spend to £2,167.

At East Midlands airport, MAG says a new route to Seville has proved popular with passengers, as well as destinations in the eastern Mediterranean.

The group claims East Midlands has demonstrated the role it will play in post-Brexit Britain, handling £10 billion worth of goods traded to and from non-EU destinations in a year.

Further afield, MAG has announced it will submit a bid to run Sofia airport in Bulgaria.

Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer at MAG, said: “MAG’s continued growth demonstrates the key role that our airports will play in the next ten to 15 years in meeting demand for air travel to and from the UK. In order to forge links with new markets once the UK has left the European Union, new long-haul links will be of paramount importance right across the country. The government’s forthcoming aviation strategy needs to focus on the role that airports right across the UK can play in promoting trade links to new territories and new economies.

“We’ve seen the transformative effect that new routes to China from Manchester have had for the Northern economy over the last three years, and the new Stansted to Dubai service is already proving extremely popular with businesses in the East of England. MAG’s teams are out meeting airlines from across the world every week and we are calling for an aviation strategy from government that supports the potential of the UK airports most capable of driving economic growth in their regions and for the UK as a whole.”

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