Airports operated by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) served 2.7 million passengers in October 2021, representing 51% of pre-pandemic traffic compared with the same month in 2019.
These figures mark six months of sustained increases in the number of passengers traveling through MAG airports. In May 2021, the group welcomed only 260,000 passengers. By contrast, October 2021 is the first month since February 2020 in which both Manchester and London Stansted airports have each served more than one million passengers.
MAG said that the increase seen in October was boosted by the half term period and pent-up demand for international travel after more than a year of Covid-related disruption. Its airports served one million passengers during half term alone, making it the busiest period since the pandemic began.
The number of passengers served in October was 22% higher than in September following a further easing of restrictions on international travel on October 4, which saw PCR tests replaced by cheaper lateral flow requirements, alongside the removal of all remaining countries from the ‘red list’.
This positive trend is expected to continue in the lead-up to the festive season, particularly as leisure travel resumed between the UK and the USA on November 8.
London Stansted’s recovery is among the strongest in the UK, with traffic returning to 43% of pre-pandemic levels in September, compared with 38% at London Heathrow, and 24% at London Gatwick, according to CAA data.
Charlie Cornish, CEO, MAG, 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 traveling abroad at the earliest opportunity.”