Pandemic plunges Manchester Airports Group £170m into the red

Manchester Airport Group suffered a 89.4% fall in passenger numbers last year in an “unprecedented period” as Covid-19 hit the aviation sector.

Levels fell to 6.3 million travellers in the year to March 31, down from 59.6 million the previous 12 months.

The owner of Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports suffered a loss of £170.1 million against a profit of £377.6 million a year earlier.

Passenger numbers dropped to 2.8 million from 28.2 million a year at Manchester airport; 3.1 million from 26.9 million at Stansted and 400,000 from 4.5 million at East Midlands.

The group was forced into a “major streamlining” of its workforce, including management, back office functions and operational staff “to reflect the short term reduction in operating activity”.

All non-essential expenditure was frozen and all staff took a 10% pay cut from April 2020.

“Decisive steps” were taken to significantly reduce operating costs through the alignment of infrastructure and resources to meet the revised traffic demand, MAG added.

The company described its response to the pandemic as having been “measured, strong and focussed on long-term recovery”.

MAG, which is leading a legal challenge on Friday to the government’s traffic light system for international travel, attracted £300 million of new equity from shareholders plus £400 million through the sale of its non-core property portfolio.

This contributed to a cash position of £518.1 million at March 31.

MAG said: “The increase in supply of vaccines, the steps being taken by countries to roll out the vaccine to vulnerable categories in the first instance and the testing protocols that are being put in place by governments, will allow the gradual re-introduction of international travel as border controls are gradually relaxed as the impacts of the pandemic reduce.”

The company has introduced additional health measures, testing facilities and controls at its airports “to provide a safe environment for our passengers, customers, airlines and colleagues as airlines start up their operations again”.

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