MAG reports £374m loss during pandemic

The results have been published ahead of the group’s court appearance tomorrow, where it intends to challenge the government on its traffic light system  

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has released its full-year results for the year ending March 31. 

The organisation kept its airports open throughout the pandemic to facilitate essential travel and freight handling, whilst also transporting protective medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies.  

Between 2020 and this year, it recorded a £374m loss as a result of keeping its sites open with limited passenger traffic. 

Photo MAG

However, an increase in online shopping helped boost freight operations at East Midlands, rising by 19% and London Stansted, which climbed by 31%.  

The group revealed that it acted quickly to help secure a viable financial stance in the early months of the pandemic. It strengthened its cash position with £300m of additional equity funding from shareholders, alongside reducing operating costs by £183.4m. 

These results have been published prior to MAG appearing in court tomorrow (June 9) to challenge the government on how they have handled the traffic light system for reopening international travel

The operator is leading the proceedings alongside Ryanair, IAG, Virgin Atlantic, TUI and easyJet.  

All parties are calling for the UK government to explain how it categorises countries into green, amber and red lists under the traffic light system. They have argued that without this understanding, the aviation sector is unable to plan its restart. 

Furthermore, restrictions on international travel have been in place for more than 12 months, leading to passenger numbers at all three of the operator’s hubs to decline by 89%.  

“We saw international travel come to a near standstill with passenger numbers collapsing to less than 10% of normal levels, and we have had to take a series of decisive, and often difficult actions to protect the future of our business,” explains Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO. 

“As we look ahead, I am confident of the strong recovery our business and our sector can make, as well as the critical role our airports will play in ensuring a full recovery of the UK economy. Even in the last few weeks, we have taken tentative steps forward with some important markets now on the government’s green list.” 

However, Cornish also believes that recovery has been “stifled” by the current regulations.  

He added: “After more than a year of disruption, consumers deserve more clarity so they can book with confidence. And as an industry, we need to understand how the government’s traffic light system works so that we can make the right decisions for the future. 

“The Government has been unwilling to provide that transparency and that is why we have been forced into bringing a legal challenge to secure more information, along with five key industry partners.” 

MAG also took part in the ‘travel day of action’ on June 23, which saw airports and the wider travel industry within the UK call for the government to expand the green list and remove restrictions.