02 June 2014 at 09.41 GMT
Passengers using Manchester airport have hit the 21 million a year mark for the first time in six years.
Numbers are rising by 5.5% year on year at the UK’s third-largest airport, compared with 3% for the UK as a whole, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.
The airport says it is 18 months away from returning to a record annual high of 22 million passengers set in 2006, following a slump from 2008 at the start of the economic downturn.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) chief commercial officer Ken O’Toole said: “Manchester airport is the northern gateway, providing global connectivity through our unrivalled network of short and long-haul destinations.
“We continue to grow thanks to the strength of our catchment, the support of our airline partners and the continued hard work and dedication of all MAG colleagues.”
The airport is used by more than 65 airlines, operating 200 routes.
“You have 24 million people and 60% of the UK’s businesses within two hours’ driving time. That is a strong basis to attract airlines,” said O’Toole.
New routes added this year include Charlotte in North Carolina, Vienna and Jeddah, in addition to a planned Cathay Pacific service to Hong Kong which is due to start in December.
Manchester has four million long-haul passengers a year but three million still regularly travel from the region to London to fly onwards.
Dubai has become its second most popular destination as the emirate becomes a global hub.
MAG is working on introducing a flight to Beijing, since a third of the UK’s traffic to the Chinese capital originates in the northwest, the Financial Times reported.
Manchester expects 9.3 million passengers to use the airport over the peak summer period.
Sourced from Travel Weekly