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Manchester exceeds 2019 traffic in October and is the UK’s third-busiest airport; Ryanair top airline this year

Egypt Air at Manchester

Serving a great slice of northern England, Manchester welcomed 24.2 million passengers in the first 10 months of 2023. This included 2.6 million in October, up by more than 5% versus the same month in 2019. It was the first month to have seen traffic exceed pre-pandemic levels. Not surprisingly, the airport’s own statistics shows that it was driven by scheduled international traffic (about +7%), with the domestic market remaining heavily impacted (-40%). Manchester remains the UK’s third-busiest airport.

Multiple airlines have been added

Manchester has welcomed various new carriers since the end of 2021. Carriers include the following, the most recent of which to begin was EgyptAir in July 2023. While not announced when writing, Royal Jordanian has scheduled Amman-Manchester to begin on 11 March 2024, rising to 3-weekly.

  • Aer Lingus UK: December 2021
  • Biman Bangladesh: December 2021
  • EgyptAir: July 2023
  • Gulf Air: June 2022
  • Kuwait Airways: May 2022
  • Royal Jordanian: March 2024
  • SunExpress: December 2021

EgyptAir returned from Cairo having last operated the route eight years previously. While it started at 5-weekly using the 737-800, it already plans 6-weekly services next summer using the larger-capacity A321neo. Evidently, it has done well.

MAN-Egypt Air Launch

A regional difference

The airline additions, including one from Africa and two from the Middle East, have helped those regions to recover stronger than others, based on Cirium schedules information data. This year, Manchester has only 4% fewer departing seats to the Middle East than in 2019, while Africa has risen by 20%.

The arrival of Turkey’s SunExpress contributed to that country’s greatest amount of Manchester capacity to date. There are 1.1 million departing seats this year, up by 64% versus 2019 and 15% above the previous record of 2022.

Cirium tells that Turkey’s is now Manchester’s third most-served country market, up six places versus before the pandemic. This has contributed to international Europe having 6% more seats for sale than 2019, a strong performance given it accounts for the vast regional capacity. This region has also benefited from considerable capacity growth from Manchester’s two biggest operators.

Dublin Airport

In contrast, domestic UK, along with North America – historically Manchester’s second-largest international market – remain the least recovered. Domestically, it especially suffered from the exit of Flybe, somewhat backfilled by Loganair and easyJet. To the US, it has suffered from the end of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Thomas Cook (defunct), along with cuts by Virgin. However, it was somewhat offset by the launch of Aer Lingus UK. It remains a strong opportunity.

Manchester regional development

Ryanair’s lead over easyJet widens

Ryanair remains Manchester’s leading carrier, with the gap between it and easyJet – the pair have fought it out for the top spot for years – growing. Ryanair’s network comprises 87 destinations in 2023, with the original market of Dublin still top. Added routes this year include Venice VCE (29 March) and Tirana (31 October). Plovdiv, for skiing, starts on 16 December.

easyJet’s network consists of 77 destinations, with Amsterdam still first. A selection of routes have been added in the past few months, including Paris ORY (27 March 2023), Murcia (28 March), Istanbul IST (9 June), Belfast BHD (26 June), and Kittila (16 November). Grenoble launches on 10 December, Reus on 2 April 2024, and Skiathos on 5 May.

Top 10 Manchester Airlines

Dublin is the leading destination

Manchester’s network consists of 190+ destinations this year. While London LHR was number one until 2014, the increasingly fast train meant that capacity has reduced significantly over the years. The 265-kilometre market to Dublin became first in 2015, where it remains. It is served by Ryanair (38-weekly in December) and Aer Lingus (35-weekly; some by ATR 72-operating Emerald).

Top 10 Manchester

Athens International Airport