Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is “confident” of a strong recovery this year as Covid-19 restrictions on international travel are removed.
The owner of Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, said that traffic had been recovering up to late November 2021, until the Omicron variant led to the introduction of new travel restrictions in the UK and around Europe.
Passenger numbers had reached 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels before Omicron struck with Stansted recovering at the fastest rate. But there was a 30 per cent fall in MAG’s traffic in December compared with the previous month.
The group catered for 14 million passengers in 2021, which was a reduction of 9.1 per cent on its 2020 figure.
Manchester airport saw the largest year-on-year fall in traffic of 13.3 per cent to 6.1 million passengers in 2021. Stansted only recorded a 5.4 per cent drop to 7.1 million passengers last year and East Midlands’ traffic was down 7.8 per cent to 830,000 travellers.
MAG added that it had seen a “surge” in bookings since the UK government eased Covid restrictions by ending pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK.
Charlie Cornish, MAG’s CEO, added: “Now that Omicron testing requirements have been removed, people are clearly excited about where they can travel this year.
“We are confident that the recovery will be strong as we head towards to the summer, and the sharp increase in bookings in recent days is hugely encouraging.
“It is clear that the temporary reintroduction of travel restrictions impacted passenger confidence during December, which came after we had seen a strong revival of passenger volumes up to November.
“We will continue to work closely with the government on a plan for the full removal of all remaining restrictions and hope to see that set out by the end of the month.”