UK’s largest airport group welcomes first passengers back under traffic-light system, as it calls on Government to unlock travel further

  • International travel resumes today under the Government’s traffic-light system
  • Passengers permitted to travel for leisure for the first time since last summer
  • MAG is urging the Government to broaden the ‘green list’ and make the most of UK vaccination success
  • Manchester Airport will operate one of the first flights out of the UK to green-listed Portugal this morning
  • East Midlands Airport will operate its first passenger flight in six months

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is today welcoming passengers back to its three airports for the first time in nearly a year, as international travel resumes under the Government’s ‘traffic-light’ system.

MAG, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted, and East Midlands airports, will see passengers heading off on long-awaited leisure journeys, which are now permitted to the Government’s 12 approved ‘green list’ countries, including holiday favourite Portugal.

Manchester will operate one of the first flights out of the UK to Portugal this morning, with a 6am Ryanair service heading to Madeira. It has seen its flight schedule near double this week, as airlines up the number of services they’re going to operate to meet demand.

Today is a milestone moment for East Midlands Airport, which will also operate its first commercial passenger flight in six months. Ryanair will fly to Faro, also in Portugal, at 5.10pm. East Midlands’ passenger operation ceased completely under the Government’s travel restrictions.

Coronavirus safety measures continue to remain in place across all three of MAG’s airports. These include enhanced cleaning, Perspex screens, mandatory face coverings, and sanitizer stations. It is commonly accepted that social distancing won’t always be an option in a transport setting, so these measures help keep passengers safe when they cannot keep their distance. MAG also continues to follow the latest Government and Public Health England advice.

MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish said:

“Welcoming passengers back to our airports today is a symbolic moment after the most difficult year in our history.

“Our teams have been working hard across all three of our airports to make sure that whether they’re departing or arriving, passengers have a positive experience after what will have been for many, a long time away from air travel.

“The resumption of international travel is of course an important milestone as coronavirus restrictions ease across the UK. However, with so few countries on the green list, this is not the broader restart our sector or our passengers were hoping for.

“With the Government set to review of the traffic-light system every three weeks, we’re calling on Ministers to increase the number of countries on the green list, and for a smarter approach to protecting the UK from variants of concern which would remove the need for costly PCR testing. This big step forward would recognise the scientific evidence which shows that vaccinations, and the effective use of testing, can support safe travel to a much larger group of low-risk countries than was announced on 7 May.

“The UK has implemented a world-leading vaccination programme, and we should be capitalising on its success on an international level by allowing restriction-free travel for the fully vaccinated, rather than just for unlocking our domestic economy.

“Aviation brings so much value to the UK economy, through jobs and trade as well as connecting businesses, family and friends around the globe. To regain this value, we need a system in place which allows the sector to begin a sustained recovery that welcomes more and more passengers back to our airports.”

MAG is advising all of its passengers that Border Force officers will be checking more documentation than was previously required when arriving in the UK. The UK Government has advised that these checks will increase the time it will take to process each passenger and will result in some delays at the border. MAG will be offering support to UK Border Force operatives at each of its three airports to provide the best possible service, despite extra checks.

As operations restart, so too will the retail offerings at MAG’s airports. From today, Duty Free will reopen at Manchester and London Stansted airports, alongside a range of food and drink outlets including Boots, Pret a Manger, the Grain Loft (Manchester) and Cabin (London Stansted). Retail outlets at East Midlands airport will remain temporarily closed.

Manchester and London Stansted airports have created detailed passengers guides about how they can book tests, which car parks will be in operation and other information about travelling:


London Stansted