Image via Shutterstock

Increased popularity of medium-haul winter sun destinations as alternatives to Sharm el-Sheikh and other North African areas drove further growth at Manchester Airports Group airports last month.

Passengers are said to have responded well to destinations promoted by airlines and operators as alternatives to the Egyptian Red Sea resort, which has seen flights suspended from across the UK due to security concerns, and other North African destinations, figures for February show.

More people flying on breaks to European cities such as Berlin, Riga, Brussels, Reykjavik and Amsterdam also drove passenger growth across MAG’s four airports.

Manchester airport saw numbers rise by 10.7% year-on-year to almost 1.5 million; Stansted was up by 15% to almost 1.7 million, East Midlands by 1.3% to 205,090 and Bournemouth by 36.5% to 28,167.

Popular destinations from Manchester included Madeira (pictured), up 62.3%, Dominican Republic, up 61.5%, Cape Verde, up 56.6% and Gambia, up 44.8% in addition to winter sun staples such as the Canary Islands, mainland Spain and Portugal.

Domestic routes to Scotland from Stansted saw 41% more passengers with increased load factors on all services.

The top destinations from East Midlands were Tenerife, Dublin, Alicante, Lanzarote and Malaga.

Manchester airport managing director, Ken O’Toole, describedlast month’s growth as testament to the strength of the catchment area and continued efforts to work with airlines to identify new routes.

“With over 23 million passengers [a year] coming from as far north as Scotland, and as south as the Midlands, Manchester airport has the demand and capacity to offer passengers a wealth of destinations and options to suit every traveller,” he said.

Outgoing Stansted managing director, Andrew Harrison, said: “The upward trend in passenger traffic at Stansted continued during the month as we experienced our busiest ever February, the 23rd consecutive month of passenger growth and the highest annual passenger total since August 2008.

“This strong demand continues to be driven by record numbers of passengers on each flight arriving and departing from Stansted plus airlines increasing capacity on key routes including Berlin, Cologne, Prague and the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.”

“Stansted is the UK’s fastest growing major airport, at the heart of the UK’s innovation corridor and we remain focused on providing passengers with even more choice of airlines and destinations to better serve our region’s needs.”