MAG airports prepare for passenger growth through the summer

  • UK’s biggest airport group grows 4.3% as summer schedules get underway and families enjoy Easter breaks.
  •  London Stansted Airport sees highest growth in MAG, driven by business destinations.
  •  MAG expects growth to strengthen further through the summer.




London Stansted

East Midlands


Rolling 12 month total





March 2018 total





March 2018

% change

year on year








London Stansted

East Midlands

March 2018 tonnes




March 2018

% change

year on year




*excludes figures for Bournemouth Airport, which was sold to RCA in December 2017.

MAG (Manchester Airports Group) prepared for an expanded summer schedule by welcoming 4.3% more passengers in March than in the same month last year.

The fastest growth within MAG in March came at London Stansted Airport, which grew 5.8% to serve 1.99m passengers. The routes showing the strongest growth year on year at Stansted in March were all business focused destinations, with Belfast, Copenhagen and Frankfurt the three destinations to grow the most. Popular city break destinations Prague, Naples, Nice and Istanbul were also strong performers. London Stansted is set to be the fastest growing airport serving the capital in 2018 with over 10.8 million airline seats available across the most extensive summer schedule offered at the airport.

Manchester Airport grew 3.7% to also serve 1.99m passengers. Manchester is now entering its summer season and is expecting to grow further in the months to come, as airlines including, Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI fill runway slots left vacant by the loss of Monarch at the start of the winter season. will extend its operation into Manchester’s expanding Terminal 2 in April, meaning it will operate flights across two terminals at Manchester for the first time.

East Midlands Airport’s passenger figures in March declined slightly (-1.7%) to 272,000 but MAG expects growth to pick up as Summer begins. The airport this month welcomes a new MD, Karen Smart, who joins from London Stansted Airport and will lead a team of over 500 employees at the UK’s largest airport for pure cargo aircraft.

Tim Hawkins, MAG Corporate Affairs Director
"The months ahead will see new long haul and short haul route launches and that is why MAG is investing in its terminal facilities to ensure we have world class spaces to welcome our passengers.
Tim Hawkins, MAG Corporate Affairs Director

Together, the figures mean that MAG served 58.9m passengers in the financial year to March 2018, more than ever before despite the sale of Bournemouth Airport to Rigby Group, the loss of Monarch and some cuts to Ryanair’s schedule. MAG expects growth to continue apace in the months to come as Emirates, Primera Air and Wow Air start operations from London Stansted for the first time, and new routes and additional seats are added to schedules at Manchester and East Midlands.

Year on year cargo figures were affected by Easter weekend falling partly in March this year, meaning a loss of working days relative to last year. Despite this, the UK’s biggest airport for cargo aircraft, East Midlands, grew 0.3% year on year but Manchester and London Stansted each declined (by 4.9% and 11.9% respectively). Over the past 12 months, however, MAG handled 748,000 tonnes of cargo, 7% year on year growth.

Tim Hawkins, Corporate Affairs Director, MAG said:

“London Stansted’s growth demonstrates the key role it plays in connecting London and the East of England to an unrivalled range of European destinations. It was encouraging to see that the fastest growing routes at Stansted in March were those that had a strong mix of business passengers.

“The months ahead, at Stansted and across MAG, will see further growth, with new long haul and short haul route launches and that is why MAG is investing in its terminal facilities to ensure we have world class spaces to welcome our passengers.

“It will be at least 10-15 years before any new runway is available in the South East and our airports - Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands - will support economic growth, job creation and increased trade by providing the spare runway capacity this country needs.