Record passenger numbers at Manchester airport and strong growth at Stansted helped boost annual profits at Manchester Airports Group.
Earnings [EBIDTA] for the year to March 31 rose by 8.7% or £28 million to £348 million over the previous 12 months – the sixth consecutive year of growth.
Overall passenger numbers using MAG airports, which also includes East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, rose by 7.7% to 55.9 million.
The growth was helped by long-term commercial agreements with airlines which contributed to 11.5% growth at Manchester airport to 26.2 million and 4.7% at Stansted to 24.3 million.
MAG CEO Charlie Cornish, said: “This year has seen our airports fly a record number of passengers to a record number of destinations all over the world.
“This improved connectivity has generated a significant increase in the contribution that MAG makes to the UK economy and we encourage government to prioritise the development of an aviation strategy that makes full use of the runway capacity available today at our four UK airports.”
He added: “It is critical that all European airlines retain liberal access to the continent’s skies and we are urging government to prioritise an interim deal on aviation as part of our Brexit negotiations.
“Tickets will soon go on sale for flights in the post-Brexit period and both airlines and passengers need to be confident about their ability to fly to and from the UK.”
MAG said it had delivered a strong financial performance, “meeting or exceeding its financial targets and continuing the growth delivered over the past few years.
“This is driven by increases in passengers, continued improvement in commercial performance and focussed expenditure to support both volume growth and improved customer service.”
Stansted remains “well-placed to absorb future growth in London’s aviation demand prior to any new runway being built at London Heathrow,” the company added.
Stansted secured planning permission for a £130 million new dedicated arrivals terminal in April to help the airport continue to grow.
A £1 billion transformation of Manchester airport will allow the north-west hub to continue to grow and provide airlines and passengers with the latest technology to improve service levels.
Passengers using East Midlands airport grew by 4.4% to 4.7 million in the period while numbers remained static at 700,000 at Bournemouth.
Cornish said: “Our plans for significant investment in Manchester airport and London Stansted will not only improve the experience for passengers and airlines using our airports but also provide the foundations upon which we will be able to meet anticipated future demand.
“Manchester airport is now one of Europe’s top 20 largest airports, reflecting the quality of the access it offers to global markets and London Stansted will play an increasingly vital role in providing London and the south-east with valuable international connectivity.
“Looking ahead, our resilient business model, combined with the competitive advantages that our airports offer and our strong financial position will ensure that MAG is well-placed to benefit from the ongoing demand for air travel.
“The transformative projects that we are undertaking will improve the experience for passengers and enable us to attract more airlines and services to our airports.”
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