Manchester is the sole airport outside London in UK’s busiest airports list

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A new report ranks all the airports in the UK which has the most passengers, airlines, and destinations – Manchester is the only airport apart from the capital to break into the top 5 list.

Whether people will be happy about starting their holiday or have the post-holiday blues on the way home, all airports and airlines across the country are bracing themselves for another busy summer period.

The 2023 Busiest Airport Report by ePower Trucks ranks the most popular airports based on the amount of passengers, the amount of airlines and total destinations, revealing the best airport for holidays to different countries.

Key Findings:

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Airport in the UK. Photo: Belinda FewingsAirport in the UK. Photo: Belinda Fewings
Airport in the UK. Photo: Belinda Fewings

✈️ Manchester Airport is third on the list, where they have a total of 23,369,770 passengers, 50 airlines and 146 destinations.

✈️ London Heathrow is the busiest with a total of 61,599,196 passengers, 86 airlines and 171 possible destinations.

✈️Kirkwall is the least busy with only 177,248, 2 airlines and 11 destinations which are all in the UK.

✈️Capital city airports like Belfast and Cardiff have a combined 6,283,830 passengers, 25 airlines and 49 destinations, which still makes them less busy than all of London’s airports.

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✈️ They were a total of 71.0 million visits abroad in 2022, a 272% increase from the year before which was 19.1 million visits, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Top 5 Busiest Airports Across the UK (by passengers)

1. London Heathrow - 61,599,196

Considering the population of London, there is no surprise that Heathrow Airport is the most popular. Heathrow has had many major events happen within its terminals. When Queen Elizabeth II opened the central terminal room in 1955 to the most recent appearance in major films like Love Actually, which began with a montage from there. It also has 86 airlines and a total of 171 destinations to choose from, making Heathrow the go-to airport for international travel.

2. London Gatwick – 32,839,000

The next popular airport is another London one, London Gatwick. They are the secondary airport in the area to Heathrow, based in West Sussex. They handle long-haul and short-haul flights. They also have 47 airlines and 165 destinations to visit. Despite them being in this position, they still have 28,760,196 fewer passengers a year than Heathrow.

3. Manchester - 23,369,770

Manchester is the only airport outside of London to break into the top 5. Their extensive scale and exceptional amenities enable it to cater to a greater number of long-distance flights. They have 50 airlines, and 146 possible destinations people can visit. Manchester acts as a major international hub for travellers from the north of England.

4. London Stansted - 23,319,523

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Stansted Airport, London's third major airport, consistently achieves comparable passenger volumes to Manchester Airport, despite its single runway and terminal configuration. This airport serves as a favoured choice for individuals, especially in the northern areas of London or the less populated regions of East England. Despite only having 10 airlines, they have flights to 153 countries which proves their popularity.

5. London Luton - 13,322,000

Securing the fifth position is yet another prominent London airport. Situated approximately 35 miles north of Central London and boasts its status as a significant town. Since then, passenger traffic at the airport has witnessed a remarkable surge. Like Stansted airport, they have a low amount of airlines at just 8 but they still have flights to 88 possible destinations.

Top 5 Quiet Airports Across the UK (by passengers)

1. Kirkwall - 177,248

Kirkwall Airport, located in the scenic Orkney Islands of Scotland, stands out as one of the quietest airports in the United Kingdom. Nestled in a serene and remote setting, this area has a small population (7,450) and a limited tourist influx compared to more bustling urban centres. They have 2 airlines and 11 destinations, which are all in the UK.

2. Humberside - 261,132

Humberside is situated in North Lincolnshire, which is an area away from major metropolitan areas resulting in less air traffic and fewer flights compared to busier airports. They have just 4 airlines and 4 destinations for people to go to.

3. Newquay/Cornwall - 461,148

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This airport is located on the coast of Cornwall, the southwest of England where less of the UK population lives due to it being a rural area. Also, they have fewer international and long-haul flights. They have 4 airlines and 5 possible destinations.

4. Norwich - 528,153

Norwich serves international flights, but they are quite limited in the destinations (6), they do more domestic flights which proves why it’s less busy. They also have 6 airlines.

5. Bournemouth - 693,798

Due to being on the south coast of England, Bournemouth is away from major metropolitan areas which is why they get less air traffic. They have 3 airlines and 17 possible destinations.

Top 20 Populated Areas in the UK

Rank Region Population
1 East London 2,826,900
2 West London 1,937,200
3 South London 1,641,300
4 Central London 1,408,700
5 Birmingham 984,333
6 North London 982,300
7 Liverpool 864,122
8 Sheffield 685,368
9 Bristol 617,280
10 Glasgow 591,620
11 Leicester 508,916
12 Edinburgh 464,990
13 Leeds 455,123
14 Cardiff 447,287
15 Manchester 395,515
16 Stoke-on-Trent 372,775
17 Coventry 359,262
18 Sunderland 335,415
19 Brent 329,100
20 Birkenhead 325,264

Top 10 Popular Airlines in the UK (by positive opinion)

Rank Airlines
1 British Airways
2 Virgin Atlantic
3 Emirates
4 easyJet
6 Qantas
7 Jet2
8 Lufthansa
9 Ryanair
10 Qatar Airways


We used data from World Data Info about the busiest airports in the UK. Looked at the amount of passengers that travelled from these airports to see the busiest and quietest.

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For information about each airport, we looked at their individual website and looked at the history section (e.g. Heathrow history). Also, a list of popular destinations from these airports is in the ePower Airport report.

Found the total amount of passengers through the Office for National Statistics about travel trends.

The top populated areas in the UK were listed through the World Population Review website.

The most popular airlines data was from the YouGov website.

About: ePower Trucks wants to be the go-to company in the fast-growing niche electric vehicle market in the UK. They have a broad range of small electric trucks and equipment in this market which helps reduce carbon emissions in cities across the country. They offer these vehicles for multiple solutions like hospitals, airports and waste management.