Karen Smart resigns as managing director of Manchester Airport

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UK airport operator Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has announced that Karen Smart, managing director (MD) at Manchester Airport, has decided to leave the business after eight years.

Smart has held several roles within MAG culminating in her two-year stint as MD, during which time she navigated it through the impacts of Covid-19 on the travel sector. Having taken on the position at the start of the pandemic, she has decided now is the time to return to the south of England, where her family is based, to pursue fresh career opportunities.

MAG has said that Ian Costigan will take on the role of interim MD and will be responsible for delivering the recruitment program needed to increase operational capacity over the summer. Since joining MAG in 2013, Costigan has held a number of senior positions in the business, including his most recent position of group transformation director.

Costigan will work closely with Ken O’Toole, MAG’s deputy CEO, who has overall responsibility for the strategic leadership, development and operation of the group’s airports.

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO, said, “Over the last two years, Karen has guided Manchester Airport through the most challenging period of its 84-year history, having made a major contribution to MAG throughout her time with the business. I am sorry to lose Karen after her years of valuable service, but also understand her desire to return to the south for family reasons and indeed to explore new career opportunities.

“While there are sure to be further challenges ahead, I am confident we will soon start to see the benefits of the recovery plans Karen has helped put in place and look forward to working with Ian and his leadership team to drive them forward,” he said.

Prior to her role at Manchester, Smart was MD of East Midlands Airport, and before that had a series of leadership positions at London Stansted Airport.

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