AN increase in passenger numbers at Manchester Airport has helped drive revenues and profits up at airport owner MAG.

MAG - which also owns London Stansted and East Midlands Airports - has released its annual results for the year to March 31.

Revenues and profits across the group were up, driven in part by a 6.5 per cent increase in passenger numbers at Manchester.

Long haul growth has been a highlight, with the Hong Kong route increased to daily frequency, and new routes announced to Mumbai, Seattle and Addis Ababa.

Manchester is also now ranked sixth in Europe for passengers travelling direct to the USA.

MAG is also preparing its business for continued future growth.

Manchester Airport’s Transformation Programme (MANTP) got under way in July 2017, with £150 million invested in new facilities during the year.

Local firms are benefiting from the investment with 79 per cent of spend going to firms within 35 miles of the airport.

The new facilities will enable Manchester Airport to capitalise on the spare capacity available on its two full-length runways.

MAG has the top two major UK airports for annual passenger growth: Manchester (+6.5%) and London Stansted (+7.4%).

MAG’s Property division generated a total income for the Group of £44.4 million, boosted by increased interest in the Airport City Manchester site.

MAG CEO Charlie Cornish said: “The world class connectivity our airports are delivering will ensure MAG continues to play a leading role in powering the UK economy.

“Manchester and London Stansted are the two largest UK airports with significant runway capacity and our investment will allow us to meet continued demand for aviation growth both in and out of the UK.

“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 maximise the potential of airports like Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands.

Manchester Airport celebrated its 80th birthday this year, and major progress was made on delivering Manchester Airport’s Transformation Programme (MAN-TP), with the steel frame for one of the airport’s new piers completed in February and work progressing well on the extension of Terminal 2 and new car parks.

The first new pier is due to open in April 2019, with the main terminal extension operational in 2020, meaning that passengers will soon be directly benefitting from MAG’s investment in Manchester.

MAG Property has had a strong year, with a pipeline of hotels at Airport City North, Manchester, which will deliver 1,171 new rooms. Also at Manchester Airport, 56,000 sq ft of office space was let to e-commerce business The Hut Group.