Airport passenger numbers show effect of Covid-19 on aviation industry

Manchester Airport, in which Wigan Council is a shareholder, saw numbers fall by three quarters last year.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:54 am

The airport saw a 76.1 per cent reduction in the number of people coming through the terminals in 2020 compared to 2019, research by travel website MyBaggage.com found.

Astonishingly this huge reduction only made Manchester the ninth-worst affected airport in the country as the novel coronavirus brought international travel and the aviation sector to a grinding halt.

Travel experts believe the worldwide grounding of planes due to Covid-19 and the limited chances to get airborne again last year could have cost the industry £20bn.

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Planes at Manchester Airport. Photo by Getty Images

The figures could also have a knock-on effect in the borough as Wigan Council’s stake in the airport means its share of its profits are ploughed into services and projects here.

In 2018 the local authority’s share from the airport was £4.8m, while the 2017 dividend went to buying The Galleries Shopping Centre in Wigan town centre as part of a long-term project to turn around its fortunes.

In addition to large-scale projects the airport dividend has also generally boosted the town hall’s coffers at a time when austerity means budgets have been shrinking.

Manchester’s passenger reduction is just over the 75 per cent fall in numbers seen across the UK’s airports as a whole.

Liverpool, which is also a popular gateway to foreign destinations for Wigan travellers, saw a 73.5 per cent drop in passengers between 2019 and 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority data shows. London City was worst hit (82 per cent).

While the new research lays bare the devastating economic impact of the pandemic on the UK’s airports, the figures are likely to be welcomed by environmental campaigners with the period seeing a 60 per cent fall in CO2 emissions from aviation.

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