Total MAG passenger numbers for the first six months of the year were 6.6m, which were 57% up on the corresponding period in 2020 but 82% down on the corresponding period in 2019.
The Group made an adjusted EBITDA2 profit of £25.1m at the half-year, compared to a loss of £81.9m in the comparative six months ended 30 September 2020 and a profit of £270.7m for the comparative six months in 2019.
While the recovery of UK aviation over the summer was modest, it is important to note that passenger volumes across Europe climbed to approximately 60% of pre-pandemic levels during the same period. This performance on the continent, where governments moved more quickly to relax travel restrictions, gave us confidence that latent demand remained for travel and would begin to return once restrictions were eased in the UK.
In this context, MAG’s focus during the first six months of this year has remained on tight cost controls, building on the work done in this area during FY21. We maximised our use of the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), agreed a new stability agreement with our Trade Unions – which aligned rates of pay more closely with hours worked – and focused capital expenditure on essential maintenance, COVID-19-related measures and safety critical activity.
In May 2021, the Planning Inspectorate granted permission to increase the number of passengers at London Stansted Airport from 35 million to 43 million passengers per year. The Inspectorate’s decision followed an extensive public inquiry which began in January 2021 and is welcome approval of our proposals for growth at the airport without additional flights and within a reduced noise limit. We will now work with our partners and neighbours to continue the sustainable growth of London Stansted and deliver the considerable benefits that growth brings to the local economy.
July 2021 saw the opening of Manchester Airport’s extended Terminal 2, which is the cornerstone of its £1 billion Manchester Airport Transformation Programme. The terminal is being opened in a phased way, with airlines gradually moving to the new facility and retailers and food and beverage outlets opening in line with demand. Feedback from customers about the new facilities has been hugely positive.
In the East Midlands, following the Chancellor’s Budget announcement in March 2021, we have been working with the UK Government and local partners on the proposal for an East Midlands Freeport, with East Midlands Airport at its heart. Significant progress has been made on the business case for the freeport, which has been submitted to the Government for designation in early 2022.