Long-haul growth at two of its three airports saw Manchester Airports Group (MAG) return an increased net profit from continuing operations for its 2017-18 financial year of £122.5 million ($161.9 million), up from £117.4 million.

MAG made the profit on revenues up 10.2% at £818.1 million, compared to a restated figure of £742.7 million. The latter figure was restated due to the adoption of IFRS 15 financial reporting rules.

However, after taking into account a £12.8 million loss from discontinued operations, the group’s net profit dropped to £109.7 million, compared to £119.2 million last time.

The group, which covers Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, saw passenger numbers grow 6.7% to 58.9 million.

Breaking the latter figure down, Manchester Airport’s passenger numbers rose 6.5% to 27.9 million; London Stansted’s passenger figures rose 7.4% to 26.1 million, while East Midlands Airport handled 4.9 million passengers, up 3.8%.

MAG cites East Midlands as being the UK’s busiest destination for pure cargo aircraft, with tonnage in 2017-18 rising 9.7% to 358,000 tonnes.

In December 2017, MAG sold the fourth member of the group, the small Bournemouth Airport on the south coast of England, to RCA, a division of the Rigby Group.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish noted that Manchester and London Stansted were the UK’s two largest airports with significant runway capacity. “The government’s support for airports looking to make the best use of existing capacity provides a clear framework for growth, and it is critical that it now matches its backing for Heathrow expansion with specific and practical proposals to improve rail access and maximize the potential of airports like Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands.”

Long-haul growth came at both Manchester, which saw “significant growth” on routes to the US and the Middle East, and at London Stansted, where Emirates, Primera Air and WOW Air have started flights to Dubai, Toronto and the US east coast.

Manchester saw substantial process on one of the airport’s new piers and the extension of Terminal 2, with the latter scheduled to open in 2020. Stansted has embarked on the first phase of a £600 million transformation program, with passenger improvements inside the main terminal building. A new arrivals building will be built alongside the existing terminal. The airport has submitted a request to the local district council to raise the annual limit on passengers served from 35 million to 43 million.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com