Manchester Airport confident of strong summer traffic as new international routes commence


The UK’s second biggest gateway, Manchester Airport is steadily emerging from the downturn thanks to a pick-up in low-cost and long-haul activity, particularly from Middle East carriers. Manchester Airport’s Head of Aviation Sales, William Pearson, told CAPA the airport is already starting to see strong passenger growth, “with international traffic showing a significant improvement on last year, following on from the strong performance of our cargo operation in recent months.”

International traffic at Manchester Airport rose by 2.2% to 10.2 million for the 12 months ended 31-Mar-2011. Total traffic fell 2.9% to 17.9 million, due to an 11.5% slide in domestic traffic to 2.2 million and an 8% fall in charter traffic to 5.3 million.

Over 85% of the airline’s weekly capacity is now on international routes – a record for the airport. The bulk of this international capacity is deployed to other Western European cities, but North Atlantic and particularly the Middle East are improving.

Manchester Airport international capacity by region (11-Apr-2011 to 17-Apr-2011)

Strong international growth expected this summer

Manchester had four successive months (October-January) where overall passenger numbers have increased. “This has mainly been due to new services and more frequencies on long-haul routes, most notably Emirates launching a second daily flight from Dubai using an A380 – the latter making Manchester the first regional airport in the world to have a service from the new airliner”, Mr Pearson said.

“We have the most new services for any UK airport” this summer, Mr Pearson declared. The highlights are as follows:

Icelandair is also changing from four times weekly via Glasgow to a three times weekly non-stop this summer, which reduces frequency but adds overall capacity.

Flybe is the airport’s biggest airline by seats per week, followed by Monarch, Thomson Airways and easyJet.

Manchester Airport capacity (seats per week, to/from) by carrier (11-Apr-2011 to 17-Apr-2011)

LCCs and Middle East carriers tap into broad catchment

LCCs easyJet, bmibaby and Jet2.com will be increasing frequencies on their operations. easyJet is adding fives times weekly service each to Berlin Schonefeld (from 03-Oct-2011), Madrid (02-Nov-2011), Bilbao (17-Jun-2011) and Palma (launched on 12-Mar-2011).

Meanwhile the Middle East carriers continue to expand. Qatar Airways also recently announced it is adding a second daily frequency to Doha. Etihad confirmed it would also fly double daily to Abu Dhabi, while Emirates also recently confirmed it would fly three times a day to Dubai.

Business fares on key routes to Heathrow, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris CDG are trending upwards, in another positive sign for Manchester and surrounding economy.

Return Business Class fares from Amsterdam to Manchester: Oct-2010 to May-2011

Click here for more fares data at Manchester Airport.

Mr Pearson said, “We’re very confident. The airport wants to carry on developing, with the long-haul network regarded as a vital part of the airport’s future. Our catchment area is vast; it extends from the East coast to West coast of the country, North into Scotland and South to Birmingham. Our research shows that around 1.5 million people within our catchment do not know that it’s possible to fly anywhere in the world from Manchester with direct or one stop services on a daily basis so it’s targeting people who we know are driving and getting the train right past Manchester to travel to a long haul destination."

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