Manchester

Coronavirus: Greater Manchester councils invest millions to help airports

Manchester Airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Manchester Airport has been described as "critically important to the future success of the city"

Ten councils will invest about £260m in Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to help safeguard its future amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities across Greater Manchester have agreed a financial package for MAG, which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports.

"Backing the airport will enable it to weather the current storm," Manchester City Council said.

It will invest about £143m, while the other councils will each give £13m.

Manchester City Council has had a 35.5% share in the ownership of Manchester Airports Groups since 1986.

Investment fund IFM has an equal share and the remaining 29% is owned equally by the nine other Greater Manchester councils.

"Manchester Airport is critically important to the future success of the city," said Sir Richard Leese, leader of the city council.

"It is both an international gateway for trade and travel and somewhere which creates and supports tens of thousands of jobs."

'Come out stronger'

Mr Leese said failure to support MAG would cost the council "much more in the longer term".

"Backing the airport will enable it to weather the current storm and come out stronger in the years ahead," he said.

"To put this in context, the MAG dividend paid to Manchester City Council for the last financial year alone was £70 million."

"Our return on this investment to support MAG's future will more than cover our costs," he said.

Air industry bodies have called on the UK government to expand support for the sector.

The coronavirus pandemic has had an "unprecedented impact on the aviation industry", a MAG spokesman said.

About 70% of the company's 7,000-strong workforce have been placed on the government furlough scheme and no redundancies have been made.

The BBC understands the investment will help support all three airports and has not been ring-fenced.

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