MAG’s three airports serve 4 million more passengers in 2017

  • UK’s biggest airport group grows passenger numbers 7.3% in 2017.
  •  Increase driven by route development and new airlines using the group’s airports.
  •  Manchester and London Stansted are the biggest two airports in the UK with significant spare runway capacity




London Stansted

East Midlands


2017 total





December 2017 total






% change

year on year








London Stansted

East Midlands

2017 tonnes




December 2017 tonnes





% change

year on year




*excludes figures for Bournemouth Airport, which was sold to RCA in December 2017. In 2016, London Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands airports served 54.6m passengers

2017 saw continued growth at MAG, the UK’s largest airports group, as its three airports saw increased demand from passengers and airlines for flights.

Manchester Airport grew 8.5% year-on-year to serve 27.8m passengers in 2017, more than have ever flown from Manchester before. The success of long haul routes to Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Houston, combined with continued strong demand for summer holidays to Spain, Greece and the Canary Islands saw Manchester Airport play an ever more important role in connecting the North with global destinations. In December 2017, traffic was up 1.5% year on year to 1.8m.

The growth comes despite the airport’s 7th biggest airline, Monarch, entering administration in October. Strong airline demand has enabled the airport to make good progress in allocating the slots previously used by Monarch for Summer 2018 and flights with, TUI and Thomas Cook Airlines are already on sale.

London Stansted Airport also recorded its busiest ever year as it welcomed 25.9 million passengers in 2017, an increase of 1.57 million passengers and 6.5% over the previous 12 months.

During 2017, the top five destination countries reporting the strongest growth by passenger volumes from Stansted versus 2016 were Spain (+478,000), France (+382,000), Denmark (+281,000), Turkey (+222,000) and Bulgaria (+134,000).

The year ended at Stansted with the exciting announcement that Emirates will open a new direct service to Dubai in June 2018, and onward access to a wide range of destinations right across the world, including Shanghai, Sydney, and Hong Kong.

The number of passengers passing through London Stansted in December 2017 was slightly down on the same month in 2016, largely due to flight cancellations during the period due to adverse weather conditions in the UK and across Europe. However, it was still the second busiest December on record with over 1.8 million passengers flying during the month.

Ken O'Toole, CEO, London Stansted Airport
“The positive passenger growth at Stansted was driven by increased choice from many of our airline partners, particularly Ryanair who experienced another strong year, and the very successful opening of’s first base in the south of England back in March."
Ken O'Toole, CEO, London Stansted Airport

MAG’s third UK airport, East Midlands, also grew in 2017 – seeing a 4.9% increase in the number of passengers it flew. The airport has ambitious expansion plans to double its passenger numbers to 10m in the next 10-15 years, with a focus on developing more routes to major European hubs to complement is popular holiday routes.

MAG as a whole grew 7.3% year on year on a ‘like for like’ basis, excluding figures for Bournemouth Airport which was sold in December 2017. In December 2017, excluding Bournemouth, MAG grew 0.7%.

In Cargo, East Midlands Airport, the UK’s largest airport for pure cargo, grew 8.6% in 2017 to handle 353,017 tonnes. London Stansted grew 2.8% to 261,243 tonnes and Manchester Airport grew 8.0% to 122,358 tonnes.

Stansted Airport CEO, Ken O’Toole, said:

“The last year has been a very busy and exciting time at London Stansted with passenger numbers and the range of destinations directly available from the airport both reaching all-time highs.

“The positive passenger growth was driven by increased choice from many of our airline partners, particularly Ryanair who experienced another strong year, and the very successful opening of’s first base in the south of England back in March.

“In 2018, our aim is to continue growing our passenger numbers and provide even more choice, so we were absolutely delighted to announce just before Christmas that Emirates will begin operating a new service to Dubai from Stansted in June. This excellent addition to our route network comes on top of the very exciting news that Primera Air will also launch direct flights to New York, Boston and Toronto from April and May this year.