Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has recorded a fifth consecutive year of growth as passenger numbers hit 51.9 million and revenue was up 5.5% to £778.8m.
The airport group, which owns Manchester Airport as well as London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, saw operating profits increase by 21.7% to £186.9m for the year to the end of March 2016.
Manchester Airport growth – 24 million passengers during the year – has been driven by new long-haul routes such as Miami, New York and Hong Kong as well as short-haul and low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Jet2 adding capacity through additional services and larger aircraft.
Ken O’Toole, managing director of Manchester Airport, said: “Manchester is the only place outside of London where you can get to a lot of these long haul destinations,” he said.
“Its hard not to mention Hainan when talking about the growth of long haul carriers. It was an unknown brand in the UK when it launched.
“Now it is seeing average loads of 85% to 90%, which shows the strength of the appeal of the North West for inbound tourism from China.”
Hainan’s flight to Beijing – the first direct flight to China outside London – launched last month and it is hoped a Shanghai route will take off within the next year.
London Stansted Airport added more passengers year-on-year – 2.3 million – than any other airport in the UK, placing it amongst the fastest growing major airports in Europe.
Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of MAG, said: “This has been the fifth consecutive year of growth for the group and we have continued to outperform our challenging financial targets and seen record numbers of passengers using our airports.
“We have also made significant progress with our long-term investment programme, made an important contribution to the economies in which we operate and generated increased returns for our shareholders.
“Our airports have been able to outperform their competitors over the last year largely because they still have the capacity to grow.
“In the coming years, as this country continues to see an increase in air travel, Government must ensure that aviation policy makes best use of capacity at airports where it already exists, such as London Stansted and Manchester.
“As the country enters a new era, we will be working closely with the rest of our industry to ensure that once we leave the EU the UK remains a member of the European single aviation market.
“At no point have the excellent international air links that this country’s airports provide been more vital to the nation’s future prosperity and economic growth.”