A quarter of a million more passengers used Manchester Airport in January 2017 than in January 2016, as the northern gateway continued to experience
record breaking growth through the winter season.
The 17.7 per cent growth in January, coupled with exceptional growth in December and November 2016, means that the airport has served 25.9 million passengers in the last 12 months, enough to break into the European top 20, displacing Stockholm.
The airport is now just behind Oslo and Palma in the European rankings.
The move means that the UK joins Spain as one of two European countries with three airports in the European top 20.
The growth has been driven by new routes and increased capacity to a very wide range of destinations, including the new route to Beijing with Hainan Airlines, one additional Emirates Airbus A380 per day flying to Dubai with Emirates, replacing a smaller Boeing 777 operation, coupled with increased capacity being filled on short haul routes to Spain (37.5 per cent more passengers year on year), France (up 28.5 per cent), Italy (up 30.1 per cent) and Poland (up 63.6 per cent).
Last week, Manchester Airport was identified by both Transport for the North and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership as a strategic infrastructure asset that will play a key role in rebalancing the UK economy.
MAG believes that the government’s industrial strategy and forthcoming aviation strategy should take full advantage of Manchester’s runway capacity and the benefits of promoting international connections through the airport, as the country needs to make best use of the limited runway capacity it has over the next decade.
The airport continues to have ample capacity to grow further on its two full length runways and is offering capacity for new links to an increasingly large catchment area, across the north, to Scotland and the Midlands.
Inbound passengers are also increasingly selecting Manchester as an entry point to the UK as an alternative to London.
Manchester’s growth has also translated into higher cargo volumes, with 12.4 per cent more cargo being carried at Manchester than in last January.
Charlie Cornish, MAG chief executive, said: “MAG operates the country’s two biggest airports with spare runway capacity.
“Airlines are seeing the value of the capacity we offer and our double-digit growth is testament to our airports’ strong appeal.
“We now need the government to prioritise through its industrial and aviation strategies the question of how we are going to make best use of the runway capacity we have in this country, by improving access to airports with capacity which are now growing significantly.
“Airports like London Stansted and Manchester can take the strain over the next decade and help deliver the vision of a Global Britain.”
“For Manchester to enter the top 20 airports of Europe is a significant milestone and puts us amongst the leading gateways on the continent, in terms of total passenger numbers, the mix of destinations available and the aircraft operating on those routes.”