Manchester Airports Group has predicted a strong recovery in 2022 following the easing of travel restrictions early in the new year.
MAG said its airports had reported a stronger recovery than rivals in 2021 before temporary restrictions were imposed due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
The group said Stansted reported the fastest recovery of its three airports – which also include Manchester and East Midlands – and traffic across the portfolio before Omicron had returned to around 60% of 2019 levels.
Figures released for December show overall traffic fell to 54.8% of 2019 levels, equating to a 30% month-on-month decline.
But the airport operator said it had seen a “surge” in bookings following the easing of restrictions and said it was predicting a return to “closer to pre-pandemic levels” by the end of summer.
Chief executive Charlie Cornish said: “Now that Omicron testing requirements have been removed, people are clearly excited about where they can travel this year. We are confident that the recovery will be strong as we head towards to the summer, and the sharp increase in bookings in recent days is hugely encouraging.
“It is clear that the temporary reintroduction of travel restrictions impacted passenger confidence during December, which came after we had seen a strong revival of passenger volumes up to November.
“We will continue to work closely with the government on a plan for the full removal of all remaining restrictions and hope to see that set out by the end of the month.”
Last week, MAG announced that it had more than 1,000 job vacancies at its airport as it geared up for a travel rebound.
Cornish added: “As we prepare our airports for the increased demand we expect to see, we’re delighted to be creating thousands of jobs right across MAG, to suit a range of experience and skills, which will all play a part in ensuring our passengers have the best possible experience as we get back to travel.”