October was the busiest month for flying since start of the pandemic

But airports are only just flying over 50% of what they were in October 2019

Author: Alex UsherPublished 56 minutes ago

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) airports are calling on the Government to remove restrictions on travel after receiving 2.7m passengers in October.

Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports all saw an increase in customers last month, but they are still only flying 51% of what they were in October 2019.

October 2021 has been the first month since February 2020 in which both Manchester and London Stansted airports have each served more than one million passengers.

It is a substantial growth, as in May 2021, the Group only welcomed 260,000 passengers.

Half term demand for travel

An easing of restrictions and a half term period meant that there was a boost in international travel last month, with over one million people flying in the school holiday alone.

The number of passengers served in October was 22% higher than in September following a further easing of restrictions on international travel on 4th October, which saw PCR tests on replaced by cheaper lateral flow requirements, alongside the removal of all remaining countries from the ‘red list’.

The group are expecting their airports to get busier in the lead up to the festive season, especially as commercial flights to America have relaunched.

Before the pandemic, Manchester Airport served 1.6 million passengers travelling direct to the US each year.

Stansted to Europe the UK’s most popular flights

Direct flights from London Stansted to locations across Europe were at 43% of what they were before the pandemic hit in September 2021.

In comparison, in the same month London Heathrow reached 38% of its customers pre-pandemic, and London Gatwick only 24%, according to data from Civil Aviation Authority.

East Midlands airport has also had its busiest period since reopening passenger flights, serving over 200,000 passengers last month.

East Midlands also recently confirmed that Ryanair would be operating 31 routes from the airport in summer 2022, which will see over 130 flights a week to popular European holiday destinations.

A call for restrictions to be lifted

MAG are calling on the Government to ‘set out a clear commitment and roadmap for removing all remaining restrictions on international travel in 2022’.

The group have stated that a return to pre-pandemic restrictions is wanted after a ‘two year shut down of the industry’.

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO said: “These figures demonstrate clearly how the demand for international travel is ready and waiting for when restrictions are eased.

“It is hugely positive to have seen our traffic levels recover month on month, and the removal of costly barriers and uncertainty is giving consumers renewed confidence to get back to travel.

“We need to see this positive trend continue following the reopening of transatlantic services to the US in early November and as we continue to rebuild Manchester Airport’s network of direct long-haul connections.

“To ensure we continue on this path to a full recovery, we are calling on the Government to set out a clear ambition and plan for removing remaining restrictions on travelling abroad at the earliest opportunity.”

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