Manchester Airports Group joins airlines in court against the UK government

After suffering a £374 million (€435 million) loss for FY20/21, Manchester Airports Group calls the government of the United Kingdom for transparency on its decision-making process for international travel.

On July 8, 2021, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) reported having suffered a £374 million (€435 million) loss for the period between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. The largest airport group in the United Kingdom recorded an 89% decline in passenger numbers naming the currently in place restrictions on international air travel the main reason for such losings. 

To mitigate the loss and support essential travel as well as freight operations, MAG kept Manchester Airport, alongside London Stansted and East Midlands, open throughout the pandemic. 

“These annual results paint a very different picture to previous years, reflecting the true impact of what has been the most difficult 12 months in our history,“ Charlie Cornish, the CEO of MAG, said in the company’s statement. 

“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,“ Cornish added.

To secure its financial position while the international travel was put on halt, MAG tightened its belt by cutting operating costs by around £183 million (€212 million). The group also sold the non-essential property assets for £400 million (€465 million) and received additional equity funding from its shareholders reaching £300 million (€348 million).

However, since the international travel reopening policy and terms remain under question, MAG now prepares to take the government to the court. Accusing the government of the lack of transparency regarding how a traffic light system for international travel updates are made, MAG plans to “make its case to the court” joining the proceedings initiated by various air carriers, including Ryanair, IAG, Virgin Atlantic, TUI, and easyJet.

“Our recovery has so far been stifled by the government’s traffic light restrictions on international travel, which are significantly more onerous than other countries. After more than a year of disruption, consumers deserve more clarity so they can book with confidence,” Cornish said.

The Head of MAG outlined that the UK’s government needs to set out how it categorizes countries between the green, amber, and red lists since so far it has been “unwilling to provide transparency” forcing the airport’s group “into bringing a legal challenge to secure more information along with five key industry partners”.


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