Manchester Airports Group appoints new CEO

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) announced the appointment of Ken O’Toole as its next group CEO.

O’Toole will take over as CEO on October 1, 2023, from Charlie Cornish, who has led the business for the last 13 years.

Cornish will become chair of MAG, succeeding Adrian Montague.

O’Toole is currently MAG’s Deputy CEO, with responsibility for the strategic development of the group’s three UK airports.

Ken O’Toole

MAG is the owner and operator of Manchester Airport, London Stansted Airport and East Midlands Airport, as well as its digital travel services business CAVU.

MAG is owned by a combination of public and private shareholders, including Manchester City Council (35.5%), IFM Global Infrastructure Fund (35.5%) and the nine other Greater Manchester local authorities (29%).

O’Toole joined MAG in 2012 and has held several senior executive roles at the company including Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Executive of London Stansted Airport and Chief Executive of Manchester Airport.

MAG said Montague has given the board notice of his intention to retire as chair at the end of September 2023.

“With a major programme of investment currently underway across the group, MAG’s board has appointed Mr Cornish as chair to provide continuity through an important period for the company,” said MAG.

“Mr Cornish will take over the role of Chair from 1 October 2023.

“Since Mr Cornish joined as group CEO in 2010, MAG has developed into the UK’s largest airports group and delivered significant growth and investment, including the acquisition of London Stansted Airport in 2013, the launch of Manchester Airport’s £1.3bn transformation programme in 2015 and the development of a digital travel services business, CAVU.

“Following the acquisition of London Stansted, MAG grew passenger numbers at its three airports by 45% to a peak of 62.2 million in the year before the pandemic, with these recovering close to pre-pandemic levels in recent months.

“MAG has also developed an industry-leading approach to corporate social responsibility, including achieving carbon-neutral operations across the group in 2015.

“The MAG board would like to thank Sir Adrian for his significant contribution to the success of the group since 2014, including guiding the organisation through the challenges associated with the pandemic over the last few years.”

Montague said: “After helping to guide MAG for nearly a decade, especially through the pandemic, and with succession to the key roles now secured, my job is essentially done and now is the right time to hand over the chair to Charlie.

“The speed with which people and businesses have returned to international travel shows the bright future for aviation and for MAG in particular. I want to thank everyone across the company for the hard work and passion they bring every single day, and to wish Ken and Charlie the best as they take forward this next chapter for the business.”

Cornish said: “The last 13 years have been an incredible time for aviation. We’ve seen fantastic opportunities and some unprecedented challenges.

“Through all that, it’s been a great privilege for me to build and lead the UK’s largest airports group, working with a fantastic team of colleagues to grow the organisation and our contribution to the UK economy.

“I am delighted that Ken will be succeeding me as CEO, and I look forward to supporting MAG’s continued growth as its chair over the coming years.”

O’Toole said: “This is an exciting time to be taking the reins for the next stage in MAG’s development. Having delivered a successful recovery over the last year, the outlook for our three airports and our digital business, CAVU, is really strong.

“Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands play vital roles in their regions, and our brilliant people, supportive investors and clear plans for growth – both in the UK and overseas – mean we are primed to make the most of these opportunities.

“I’m pleased to be leading MAG through this next phase, working with our customers, communities, airlines and stakeholders to deliver a great passenger experience and sustainable growth.”