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Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerManchester Airport Holdings
OperatorManchester Airport plc
ServesGreater Manchester and North West England
LocationRingway, Manchester, UK
Hub forVirgin Connect[1]
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL257 ft / 78 m
Coordinates53°21′14″N 002°16′30″W / 53.35389°N 2.27500°W / 53.35389; -2.27500
EGCC is located in Manchester
EGCC is located in the United Kingdom
EGCC is located in Europe
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05L/23R 3,048 10,000 Concrete
05R/23L 3,050 10,007 Concrete/
grooved asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passenger change 17-18Increase1.5%
Aircraft movements201,239
Movements change 17-18Decrease1.2%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[2]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[3]

Manchester Airport (IATA: MAN, ICAO: EGCC) is an international airport at Ringway, Greater Manchester, England, 7.5 nautical miles (13.9 km; 8.6 mi) south-west of Manchester city centre.[2][4] In 2016, it was the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom in terms of passenger numbers and the busiest of those not serving London.[3][5] The airport comprises three passenger terminals and a goods terminal, and is the only airport in the UK other than Heathrow Airport to operate two runways over 3,280 yd (2,999 m) in length. Manchester Airport covers an area of 560 hectares (1,400 acres) and has flights to 199 destinations, placing the airport thirteenth globally for total destinations served.[6]

Officially opened on 25 June 1938,[7] it was initially known as Ringway Airport, and is still called this locally. In the World War II, as RAF Ringway, it was a base for the Royal Air Force. The airport is owned and managed by the Manchester Airport Holdings (trading as MAG), a holding company owned by the Australian finance house IFM Investors and the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester, with Manchester City Council owning the largest stake. Ringway, after which the airport was named, is a village with a few buildings and church at the southern edge of the airport.

Future developments include the £800 million Airport City Manchester logistics, manufacturing, office and hotel space next to the airport. Ongoing and future transport improvements include the £290 million Eastern Link relief road, due to open in summer 2019. A High Speed 2 station known as Manchester Interchange, is earmarked for opening in 2033, will create a regular sub-10-minute shuttle service for connecting rail passengers between central Manchester and the Airport while relieving stress on the Styal Line to the Airport from Manchester which has become one of the most congested routes on the National Rail network.[8]

After the airport handled a record 27.8 million passengers in 2017,[3] the Airport is currently undergoing a major expansion programme to double the size of Terminal 2, with the first phase due to open in spring 2019. The £1 billion expansion will be completed in 2024 and enable the Terminal 2 to handle 35 million passengers.[9] Capacity exists for up to 50 million passengers annually with two runways,[10] however this potential figure is limited by the airport's restriction to 61 aircraft movements per hour as well as existing terminal sizes to effectively process arrivals and departures.[11]


Circa 1925 map of the area where Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe now are

Construction started on 28 November 1935 and the airport opened partly in June 1937, and completely on 25 June 1938, in Ringway parish. Its northern border was Yewtree Lane between Firtree Farm and The Grange, east of the crossroads marked "Ringway", and its southeast border a little west of Altrincham Road, along the lane from Oversleyford running northeast then east into Styal.

In the World War II, RAF Ringway was important in military aircraft production and training parachutists. After the Second World War, the base reverted to a civilian airport and gradually expanded to its present size. Manchester Airport was the busiest airport after Heathrow following the war.[12]

In 1972, the M56 motorway to the airport opened, and in 1993 Manchester Airport station. From 1997 to 2001, a second runway was built, causing large-scale protests in Cheshire, especially in the village of Styal where natural habitats were disturbed and listed buildings dismantled to make way for it.[13][14][15]

Apron view in 1972

British Airways scaled down operations from Manchester Airport with the sale of their BA Connect subsidiary to Flybe, and the ending of their franchise agreement with GB Airways, a business subsequently sold to easyJet. In October 2008, the daily New York–JFK service was also terminated and in March 2013 the frequent service to London–Gatwick. This leaves a BA Shuttle serving London Heathrow.

American Airlines operations remain in Terminal 3, with daily flights to Philadelphia, but it has terminated services to New York, Chicago, and Charlotte.[16][17]

Since taking over BA Connect's select routes, Flybe has gone on to add several more destinations. In 2012, Flybe introduced the "mini hub" concept co-ordinating the arrival and departure times of various domestic services throughout the day and thereby creating combinations such as Norwich-Manchester-Belfast, Glasgow-Manchester-Southampton and Edinburgh-Manchester-Exeter with conveniently short transfer times.[18]

In 2013, Virgin Atlantic introduced its Little Red short-haul brand to take-up some of the available Heathrow and Gatwick slots. Manchester was the inaugural destination, with services were operated by aircraft leased from Aer Lingus. However, these services ceased in March 2015 due to low popularity.[19]

Delta airlines operated a Manchester-Atlanta service, until 29 March 2015, when partner airline Virgin Atlantic began to operate the route.[20]


Manchester Airport viewed from the south-west

As part of the Government's Future of Air Transport White Paper, Manchester Airport published its Master Plan on its proposed expansions until 2030. Demolition of older buildings, such as old storage buildings, the old Alpha Catering Building and Males Garage, to the east of Terminal 2 has already begun, to make way for a new apron and taxiway towards runway 05L/23R and an eastwards extension of Terminal 2, which is planned to provide fifteen more covered stands. A full-length parallel taxiway may be added to the second runway and more crossing points added across the first runway to improve ground movements of aircraft.[citation needed]

The World Logistics Hub is also part of the Airport City Enterprise Developments in south Manchester. This development is designed to meet the growing demand for cargo handling space and infrastructure outside of the southeast. Positioned on the southwest side of the A538 road, next to the southeast side of the M56 motorway across the A538 from the World Freight Terminal, it provides access to the trunk motorway network via Junction 6. As the site grows, increased capacity will be added to the A538 with the extension of the dual carriageway between the M56 and runway tunnels and a traffic light controlled junction; improving access to the Runway Visitor Park and Romper pub.[citation needed]

Manchester Airport has development plans to meet the growing demand to fly. One document, "The Need for Land", outlines many development ideas that have been mooted for decades and will provide required capacity and more jobs. Five affected areas are:

  • Area A is a triangle of land between the A538 road and Runway 1 and the cargo terminal which is currently under development to be available for summer 2016. It will be used together with Area E, a triangle of land west of the A538 up to the M56, with its west corner opposite Warburton Green, for the expansion of aircraft maintenance and cargo terminal areas. Clough area to be enhanced with mitigation measures that will become part of the extensive Landscape Habitat Management Area. The A538 alignment to be retained and capacity added as required by increased traffic volumes.
  • Area B is located north of Ringway Road and east of Shadow Moss Road, where are car park providing replacement spaces for those lost to the Airport City development and apron expansion is constructed.
  • Area C consists of several areas of land mainly inside the M56 / M56 spur junction, around Hasty Lane east of M56 and around the current M56 spur. The land will be used for hotels and office space as well as the construction of new car parking facilities and taxiways for aircraft.
  • Area D are areas of land on both sides of Manchester Airport railway spur, at Smithy Farm and east of B5166 Styal Road around and inside railway spur junction where car parking, offices, hotel, etc. can be developed.

Passenger terminals

A departure hall at Terminal 1
Terminal 2
Terminal 3

Manchester Airport has three passenger terminals (Terminals 1, 2 and 3). Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by the skylink, with travelators to aid passengers with the 10–15-minute walk. Terminal 3 is linked to Terminal 1 and the skylink by a covered walkway. The "skylink" also connects the terminals to the airport railway station complex (known as "The Station") and the Radisson BLU Hotel. Skylink 1 started construction in 1991 and opened 1993. Skylink 2 opened in September 1996 along with the Radisson.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 is used by airlines with scheduled and charter operations, flying to European and other worldwide destinations. It is the largest terminal at the airport. It was opened in 1962, by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,[21] and it is a base for easyJet and Some other airlines that fly out of Terminal 1 include Icelandair, Aer Lingus, Air Transat, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal, and Turkish Airlines. Terminal 1 is spread over an area of 110,000 m2 (1,200,000 sq ft).

The terminal has 2 Piers of which combined have 29 stands, of which 15 have air bridges and is the largest of the three terminals. Gate 12 was specially adapted to accommodate the Airbus A380 which is operated by Emirates on their route three times per day from Dubai to Manchester.[22] Terminal 1's current capacity is around 11 million passengers a year,[23] compared with an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers when it first opened.[23]

In the Summer of 2009, a £50 million redevelopment programme for Terminal 1 was completed, which included a new £14 million 14-lane security area.[24] Passenger flow on Terminal 1's gating piers is due to be realigned, with plans to redesign the piers so departures and arrivals do not contraflow on the same level, allowing larger seating areas at the gates, express retail outlets and a dedicated lounge and gating area for future Airbus A380 flights. Currently, Gate 12, Pier B has been upgraded to accommodate the A380, the only gate at the airport that can handle this aircraft so far. An early phase of this has seen the removal of the South Bay remote aircraft stands, constructed in 1962 between taxiways Juliet and Kilo and as a result more recently re-aligning taxiway Juliet into an extended taxiway Bravo.

Terminal 1 will not be included in the 10 Year Airport expansion project and will be closed and demolished by around 2022. However Pier B in Terminal 1 is due to be kept and will be entirely rebuilt.[25]

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 is used by a variety of airlines, operating both charter and scheduled flights to many European and worldwide destinations.

Terminal 2 is spread over an area of 52,000 m2 (560,000 sq ft).Terminal 2 has 16 gates, of which 9 have air bridges. The design of the terminal makes it capable of extensive expansion; building work has begun for an extension providing additional gates, together with the construction of a satellite pier. Terminal 2's current capacity is around 8 million passengers a year, this will be extended to ultimately handle 25 million passengers a year.[23] In 2007, an £11 million project commenced to redevelop Terminal 2 by improving security facilities and enhancing retail and catering services.

Terminal 2 is due to receive a major extension, to encompass current remote stands to the west. Between twelve and fifteen covered aircraft stands will be made available by this. An air side link for transferring passengers between Terminals 1 and 2 is at the planning stage, designed in an effort to boost Manchester's chances of becoming a major hub airport and minimise missed connections. It was announced in June 2015 that the airport would have an expansion taking 10 years to complete. Terminal 2 will be the most developed, adding new piers to the terminal and also create a larger security hall as well as more outlets. There will also be a connecting hallway to Terminal 3.[26]

The first phase of the new extension, Pier 1, opened on 1 April 2019.[27] [28] The second phase, the terminal extension, will open in April 2020. The current Terminal 2 will then close for two years for refurbishment.[29]

Terminal 3

Terminal A (a self contained new domestic terminal to replace the original pier A) was opened in 1989 by Diana, Princess of Wales and had many names before final being expanded and a re-designation as Terminal 3 in May 1998. The terminal was known in succession as "Terminal A"; "Terminal A – Domestic"; "Terminal 1A" after Terminal 2 opened in 1993; "Terminal 1A – British Airways and Domestic"; "Terminal 3 – British Airways and Domestic" before becoming simply known as Terminal 3 in 1998. In June 1998, British Airways opened their new £75 million terminal facility designed by Grimshaw Architects, this being a major extension to Terminal A and became the primary user of the terminal along with codeshare partner airlines (Oneworld Alliance). Terminal 3 now spreads over an area of 44,400 m2 (478,000 sq ft).

PremiAir VIP terminal

Work began on PremiAir VIP terminal (adjacent to the Runway visitor park) in 2019 [30] opening 21 October 2019.[31]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Manchester:[32]

Aegean Airlines Seasonal: Athens
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aer Lingus Regional Cork, Dublin
Air Arabia Maroc Seasonal: Agadir (ends 24 October 2019)[33]
airBaltic Riga (resumes 29 March 2020)[34]
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air Europa Seasonal charter: Palma de Mallorca
Air FranceParis–Charles de Gaulle
Air Malta Seasonal: Malta
Air Transat Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Vancouver
American Airlines Philadelphia
Aurigny Guernsey
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Seasonal charter: Innsbruck
Belavia Seasonal: Minsk
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas, Varna
Seasonal charter: Sofia (begins 21 December 2019)[35]
Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dhaka, Sylhet (resumes 4 January 2020)[36]
British Airways Billund, London–City, London–Heathrow
Seasonal: Alicante, Chambéry, Dublin, Florence, Ibiza, Málaga, Mykonos, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Salzburg
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Boston (begins 21 May 2020)[37]
easyJet Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg, Belfast–International, Berlin–Tegel, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Budapest, Catania, Copenhagen, Faro, Funchal, Geneva, Gibraltar, Granada, Hamburg, Jersey, Kraków, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Málaga, Malta, Marrakesh, Milan–Malpensa, Munich, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Pisa, Porto, Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Sofia, Tel Aviv, Tenerife–South, Thessaloniki, Venice, Vienna
Seasonal: Agadir, Antalya, Bari, Bastia, Cephalonia, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Genoa, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Hurghada (begins 30 October 2019),[38] Innsbruck, Jerez de la Frontera, Kalamata, Lyon, Marseille, Mykonos, Olbia, Preveza/Lefkada, Rovaniemi (begins 21 November 2019),[38] Santorini, Split, Tivat, Turin, Verona (begins 28 October 2019)[38]
El Al Tel Aviv
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa
Eurowings Düsseldorf
Finnair Helsinki
Flybe Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow (ends 26 October 2019),[39] Hanover, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, Luxembourg, Lyon, Newquay, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Southampton
Seasonal: Calvi, Chambéry, La Rochelle, Milan–Malpensa, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse (ends 26 October 2019)[39]
FlyEgypt Seasonal: Hurghada
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital
Iberia Express Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
Iraqi Airways Baghdad, Erbil Alicante, Antalya, Barcelona, Budapest, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Kraków, Lanzarote, Málaga, Malta, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Almería, Bergerac, Bodrum, Burgas, Cephalonia, Chania, Cologne/Bonn, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Girona, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck (begins 21 December 2019),[40] İzmir, Kos, Larnaca, La Rochelle, Lyon, Menorca, Murcia, Naples, Nice, Pisa, Preveza/Lefkada (begins 10 May 2020),[41] Pula, Reus, Rhodes, Salzburg, Skiathos (begins 3 May 2020),[42] Split, Thessaloniki, Tivat (begins 18 May 2020),[43] Toulouse, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Zadar (begins 24 May 2020),[44] Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam
Loganair Derry, Inverness, Norwich
Seasonal: Kirkwall, Stornoway
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Norwegian Air Shuttle Bergen (begins 28 October 2019),[45] Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger, Stockholm–Arlanda
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Lahore
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Seasonal: Dalaman
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Ryanair Agadir, Alicante, Barcelona, Bergamo, Berlin–Schönefeld, Billund, Bologna, Bordeaux, Bratislava, Budapest, Carcassonne, Charleroi, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Eindhoven, Faro, Frankfurt (ends 25 October 2019),[46] Fuerteventura, Gdańsk, Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Katowice (begins 29 October 2019),[47] Kiev–Boryspil, Kraków, Lanzarote, Limoges, Lisbon, Madrid, Málaga, Malta, Marrakesh, Marseille, Milan–Malpensa (begins 27 October 2019),[48] Murcia, Nantes, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa (begins 2 April 2020),[49] Porto, Prague (begins 27 October 2019),[50] Riga, Rome–Ciampino, Rzeszów, Sandefjord, Seville, Shannon, Tenerife–South, Thessaloniki, Treviso, Valencia, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Almería, Belfast–International, Béziers, Brindisi, Cagliari, Chania, Corfu, Girona, Ibiza, Palermo, Poitiers, Ponta Delgada, Reus, Rhodes, Zadar
Saudia Jeddah
Scandinavian Airlines Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger (begins 8 November 2019),[51] Stockholm–Arlanda
Singapore Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Singapore
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
Titan Airways Seasonal: Chambéry, Zadar
TUI Airways Agadir, Alicante, Boa Vista, Cancún, Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Lanzarote, La Palma, Málaga, Malta, Marrakesh, Marsa Alam (begins 6 November 2019),[52] Montego Bay, Paphos, Punta Cana, Sal, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Alghero, Almería, Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Catania, Cephalonia, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Girona, Goa, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, İzmir, Kavala, Kos, La Romana, Lamezia Terme, Langkawi, Larnaca, Menorca, Milan–Malpensa, Naples, Olbia, Orlando/Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Pattaya, Phuket, Podgorica, Porto Santo, Preveza/Lefkada, Puerto Vallarta, Pula, Reus, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rhodes, Salzburg, Santorini, Skiathos, Split, Thessaloniki, Varna, Venice, Verona, Zakynthos
Seasonal charter: Chambéry, Geneva, Sofia, Toulouse, Turin
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
United Airlines Newark
Virgin Atlantic Atlanta, Barbados, New York–JFK, Orlando
Seasonal: Las Vegas, Los Angeles
Vueling Barcelona


FedEx Express Birmingham, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
FedEx Feeder London–Stansted


Passenger numbers

Passenger numbers at Manchester reached a record total of 27.7 million in 2017, a 9% annual increase.[3]

Manchester Airport Passenger Totals 1997–2017 (millions)
Updated: 16 January 2018.[3]
Number of Passengers[53] Number of Movements[54] Freight
1997 15,948,454 147,405 94,318
1998 17,351,162 162,906 100,099
1999 17,577,765 169,941 107,803
2000 18,568,709 178,468 116,602
2001 19,307,011 182,097 106,406
2002 18,809,185 177,545 113,279
2003 19,699,256 191,518 122,639
2004 21,249,841 208,493 149,181
2005 22,402,856 217,987 147,484
2006 22,422,855 229,729 148,957
2007 22,112,625 222,703 165,366
2008 21,219,195 204,610 141,781
2009 18,724,889 172,515 102,543
2010 17,759,015 147,032 115,922
2011 18,892,756 158,025 107,415
2012 19,736,502 160,473 96,822
2013 20,751,581 161,306 96,373
2014 21,989,682 162,919 93,466
2015 23,136,047 164,710 100,021
2016 25,637,054 183,731 109,630
2017 27,791,274 203,631 123,576
2018 28,275,972 201,239 117,264
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[3]

Busiest routes

Busiest routes to and from Manchester (2018)[55]
Rank Airport Total
2017 / 18
1 Netherlands Amsterdam 1,035,637 Decrease 0.6%
2 United Arab Emirates Dubai–International 1,000,214 Increase 1.0%
3 Republic of Ireland Dublin 980,158 Increase 0.5%
4 Spain Tenerife–South 798,954 Decrease 9.0%
5 Spain Alicante 748,982 Decrease 15.4%
6 Spain Palma de Mallorca 720,393 Decrease 3.4%
7 United Kingdom London–Heathrow 654,071 Decrease 1.7%
8 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle 628,020 Decrease 0.2%
9 Spain Málaga 567,747 Decrease 18.5%
10 Germany Frankfurt 526,188 Increase 32.0%
11 United States Orlando 484,811 Increase 1.0%
12 Portugal Faro 458,246 Decrease 8.4%
13 Spain Lanzarote 455,422 Decrease 5.4%
14 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 426,468 Decrease 1.8%
15 Spain Barcelona 391,506 Decrease 12.6%
16 United Kingdom Belfast–International 370,731 Increase 39.5%
17 Turkey Dalaman 354,102 Increase 29.8%
18 United States New York–JFK 347,873 Increase 9.5%
19 Germany Munich 344,957 Decrease 0.6%
20 Denmark Copenhagen 340,293 Increase 4.1%


Maintenance bases

Manchester Airport is the home to the engineering base of and, up until 23 September 2019, it was also the engineering base of the now insolvent Thomas Cook Group. Airlines such as Etihad Airways also have one of six maintenance bases worldwide in Manchester with their newly opened (2011) line maintenance facility.[56]

World Freight Terminal

Antonov An-225 at Manchester Airport in 2006

Manchester Airport has a World Freight Terminal, serving cargo-only freighter services and cargo carried on regular passenger flights.[57] It was opened in 1986, west of the original airfield. There is 5,500,000 sq ft (510,000 m2) of warehouse and office space on site, including a chiller unit for frozen products and a border inspection post. There are three aircraft maintenance hangars, with five transit sheds, operated by British Airways World Cargo, Swissport Cargo, Menzies World Cargo, and dnata UK. There are over 100 freight forwarding companies on site.[57]

Freight throughput at the airport grew from 94,000 tonnes in 1997 to the peak at 165,000 tonnes in 2007, but then declined to around 93,000 tonnes in 2013, subsequently increasing to over 109,000 tonnes in 2016 making Manchester the fourth-busiest UK airport for freight behind London Heathrow, East Midlands, and London Stansted airports.[3]


The A538 road runs beneath both runways via two separate tunnels. Part of the road is exposed between both runways.
The new control tower, opened in June 2013, with a Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxiing in at the end of its delivery flight.
Manchester Airport Fire Service

Manchester Airport has two parallel runways. Runway 1 (23R/05L) 3,048 m × 45 m (10,000 ft × 148 ft) and Runway 2 (23L/05R) 3,200 m × 45 m (10,499 ft × 148 ft).[2] The parallel runways lie 390 m (1,280 ft) apart and staggered by 1,850 m (6,070 ft) so that landings can be conducted independently on one runway whilst takeoffs are conducted on the other.[58]

The original main runway, then designated 06/24 and initially 3,300 ft (1,006 m) in length,[59] opened on 17 May 1937[60] when the airport was used as an RAF base and a military aircraft assembly centre. It was extended in stages from 1952, reaching its current length in 1981 to attract long-haul international traffic. As demand and aircraft movements both increased during the mid-1990s, mainly due to the newly completed Terminal 2, the airport studied the option of a second full-length runway. A consultation process began and planning permission was approved in 1997, with construction work starting the same year.

The second runway, initially designated 06R/24L,[61] became operational on 5 February 2001[60] at a cost of £172 million,[61] and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in Britain for over 20 years.[61] The site where the second runway was constructed was on the southern airfield boundary, which is near the village of Styal in the Cheshire countryside. The project was deemed controversial because of the destruction of natural wildlife habitats[62] and because of changes to flight paths to enable aircraft to fly in and out of the second runway. Aircraft landing from the southwest on to Runway 2 (05R) fly lower over the residential area of Knutsford.[63] As aircraft rarely land on to Runway 2 from the northeast (Runway 23L) or takeoff from Runway 2 to the northeast (Runway 05R) there has been no change to the path of aircraft over Heald Green, Cheadle and Stockport.

Planning permission for Runway 2 (23L/05R) permits use of both runways between the hours of 0600-2200.[60] At night between the hours of 2200-0600 single runway operations based on Runway 1 (23R/05L) are used.[60] Exceptions are made for emergencies and planned maintenance. In practice, dual runway operations incorporating Runway 2 (23L/05R) are only used at peak demand, which is currently in the morning and then again between 1300-2000hrs.[64]

Most aircraft arriving into Manchester Airport use the instrument landing system, which in line with most other airports has a glide slope of 3 degrees equal to descending 318 feet per nautical mile.[60] The prevailing wind direction is westerly, so normally aircraft fly from northeast to southwest. In practice this means that normally aircraft land from the northeast over Stockport, Cheadle, and Heald Green, and takeoff towards Knutsford. In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 1 (23R) and depart from Runway 2 (23L). When the wind direction changes, usually affecting 20% of movements per annum,[60] operations are reversed with aircraft landing from the southwest, lining up to the south over Northwich and over Knutsford and taking off towards Stockport.[60] In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 2 (05R) and depart from Runway 1 (05L).[60] Sometimes, aircraft arriving into Manchester Airport are held in stacks, usually in poor weather when the movement rate decreases.[60] The airport has 3 stacks: DAYNE, MIRSI and ROSUN, each located approximately 15/20 miles from the airport.[60] DAYNE serves arrivals from the south, ROSUN from the north and east and MIRSI from the west.[60] If you live within 20 miles of the airport, you will likely see and hear aircraft.[60]

Control Tower

A new control tower was opened on 25 June 2013. At 60 m tall, it is the UK's second tallest control tower, after London Heathrow and it replaces the old tower on top of Terminal 1.[65]


Manchester Airport is policed by the Greater Manchester Police and Manchester Airport Fire Service. Several security-related incidents have occurred at the airport in recent years.

  • In 2002, a security firm successfully smuggled fake explosives, detonators and genuine firearms onto a flight.[66]
  • In 2004, the BBC's Whistleblower programme revealed security failures at the airport, including faulty metal detectors and a lack of regular random baggage checks.[67] Many of the claims made on the programme were later discredited and much of the camera work was found to be misleading (filming from a raised footpath was used to suggest there was no security fence on the southern perimeter of the site).
  • In 2005, police used a taser on a man spotted acting suspiciously, on the apron, after he appeared to resist arrest.[68]
  • On 6 June 2006, Aabid Hussain Khan, 21, of West Yorkshire and a 16-year-old boy were arrested at the airport and later charged under Section 57 of the Terrorism Act, for conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause public nuisance by using poisons or explosives.[69]
  • On 24 July 2012, an 11-year-old boy went straight through security and managed to board the nearest boarding flight from security in T1, which was a Jet2 flight to Rome. Halfway through the flight one passenger reported him to the cabin crew, who then detained the boy at Rome and put him on the next flight back to Manchester.[70]
  • On 5 August 2014, a 47-year-old man was arrested after the pilot of a plane became aware of a potential explosive device on board. This turned out to be a hoax. As a result, Manchester Airport airfield operations were suspended for around 30 minutes whilst the man was led away by armed police. The incident required an escort from an RAF Typhoon jet into Manchester.[71]

Ground transport

TransPennine Express Class 185 arriving at the Manchester Airport railway station
In the future Manchester Airport could benefit from construction of a nearby high-speed rail station linking the airport with the South and Central Manchester


Manchester Airport station, opened in May 1993,[72] is between Terminals 1 and 2. It is linked to the terminals by a Skylink moving walkway. Trains operated by Northern, TransPennine Express, and Transport for Wales connect the airport to Manchester Piccadilly and other railway stations, mainly throughout northern England, including Crewe, Wigan, and Southport, as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland and Holyhead and Llandudno in Wales. A third platform was completed in 2008 to allow for an increase in rail capacity. In 2009, Network Rail stated that the third platform meant that capacity will become constrained by the layover of the trains and recommended building a line underneath the Airport towards Northwich by 2024.[73] In January 2013, the Government announced that a Manchester Airport station on the North side of the M56 will be included in Phase 2 of High Speed 2 which will provide links with other British cities like Birmingham and London and also a quicker route into Central Manchester.[citation needed] Work on building a new fourth platform at the existing railway station commenced in early 2014 with a blockade required in February 2015 to allow completion.[74] Construction finished in May 2015 and the platform opened to passengers in autumn 2015.[75]


A tram at Manchester Airport in November 2014 shortly after the line opened.

A Metrolink service from Cornbrook station to the Airport opened in November 2014 and runs at 12-minute frequency. Journeys along the 15-stop line between Cornbrook take approximately 35 minutes. The Manchester Metrolink light rail system has had plans to extend to the airport for many years. When the idea of a congestion charge was mooted, part of the scheme was to have extended the Metrolink to the airport. However, when this was rejected the future of the scheme was in doubt. In 2009, it was announced that the line to the airport would finally be built. The airport line is one spur of the line from St Werburgh's Road, to East Didsbury and Manchester Airport, which opened on 3 November 2014 – 18 months ahead of schedule.[76][77] As of January 2018, Metrolink services from the Airport operate to Manchester Victoria via Market Street.

Bus and coach

The Station is the airport's ground transport interchange and brings bus, coach, and rail passengers under one roof. Over 300 trains, 100 coaches and 500 buses a day use the facility,[78] including the 24-hour bus service 43,[79] which runs every 10 minutes (every 30 minutes at night) to Manchester city centre via Wythenshawe, Northenden, Withington, Fallowfield and Rusholme. There is also Skyline service 199 operating every 30 minutes to Buxton via Stockport, Disley and Chapel-en-le-Frith, as well as a number of Stagecoach Manchester and Arriva North West services to Stockport, Altrincham and various parts of South Manchester. A network of National Express coach services serve Manchester Airport and operate to destinations further afield, including as far as Dublin.


The airport is a 20-minute drive from Manchester city centre and is reached by the M56 motorway, with a dedicated approach road from the motorway at junction 5. The M56 is the main route used by traffic to reach the airport. There are also minor local roads serving the airport from the north (Wythenshawe) and the east (Heald Green). The M56/A538 road junction serves the World Freight Terminal, to the west of the airport. The A538 runs east-west serving the local towns of Altrincham and Wilmslow.

Proposed as part of the SEMMMS (South East Manchester Multi-Modal Strategy) Relief Road Scheme, a new link road to the A6 south of Stockport opened in 2018. Planning permission had been granted, with inquiries for Compulsory Purchase and Side Roads Orders following up in September 2014.[80] After significant delays, the link road opened on 15 October 2018.[81]

Taxi ranks are situated by arrivals at all three terminals.


The airport's official short-stay car parking can be found in the multistorey car parks adjacent to Terminals 1, 2 and 3. In July 2007 the airport introduced a 'No Waiting' restriction on all access roads surrounding the terminals.[citation needed] As of June 2018, the public are required to pay charges of £3 for five minutes on the terminal forecourt or £4 for the maximum ten minutes in order to drop off passengers. The charges have been highly controversial; local taxi drivers have described them as a "cash cow" for the airport,[82] and were described by a judge for Minshull Street crown court as "extraordinary" and "an absolute disgrace" after he gave a psychology teacher a suspended sentence for deliberately driving into a parking official in an act of road rage over the charges.[83]

In 2009/2010 Terminal 1's multi-storey car park was refurbished. Each level of the car park is colour-coded. The floor, walls, ceiling and supports have all received a repaint with every parking space having a sensor and green light above it, with empty parking bays indicated by the green light.

Official long-stay on-airport parking from Manchester Airport is located near the terminals and served by a regular courtesy bus. There is one long-stay car park serving Terminals 1 and 3 and a separate dedicated long-stay car park for Terminal 2. In 2009 the airport opened JetParks – two long-stay car parks less than a mile from the terminals. This is a cheaper alternative to the on-site car parks and is served by a 24-hour shuttle bus every 15 minutes. The airport also operates a Shuttle Park for long-stay car parking, which is also served by a regular courtesy bus and is located just off the airport site to the east of Terminal 3. The airport has since augmented these products with a 3rd JetParks car park, JetParks 3. This is located adjacent to Shuttle Parks and as a result, Shuttle Parks was renamed JetParks Plus. Manchester Airport also operates a very large scale valet parking product across all 3 terminals that it has branded as "Meet & Greet".[84]

In 2014 a new, 9000 space car park located underneath the approach to 23R was constructed, the first area of the site opened in the autumn. The remainder of the facility will open in time for summer 2015.

There are several privately operated car parks within a short distance of the airport, served by shuttle bus, as well as several off-site companies operating valet parking services.

Drop off zones

Up until 2018 cars dropping off passengers could do so outside terminals for free. On 10 July 2018 Manchester Airport took the step of introducing a fee of £3 to £4 for vehicles dropping off passengers at terminals.[85] Alternatively, passengers being dropped off can be taken to an off-site car park from where a shuttle bus operates to the terminals. The airport issues fines of up to £100 to vehicles which breach its' terms and conditions for the drop off zones.[86] The changes have been seen as unwelcome and nonconstructive by passengers and taxi drivers, with some saying they will boycott the airport.[87] The change has also attracted criticism from local Councillors in Cheshire, who point out that many places directly under Manchester Airport's flight paths don't have a direct public transport link to the airport. While some other UK airports also have drop off charges Manchester Airport's charges are overall higher than those at any other airport.[88]

Effect on the area

Between 1997 and 1999 three protest camps were set up to oppose the building of the second runway, the felling of nearby trees on land owned by the National Trust in Styal, Cheshire and air transportation in general. Camps were set up in Flywood, Arthur's Wood[89] and Cedar's Wood. Swampy, a well known activist, was among many protesters.[90]

The south west end of the new runway is closer to the town of Knutsford and to the village of Mobberley. There has been an increase in noise experienced by local residents from the aircraft being lower and closer.[63]

In 2007 Manchester Airport applied to build on land in Styal to increase its car parking. However, the former Macclesfield Borough Council refused to give them planning permission to do so and expressed annoyance at the airport for not investing enough in public transport.[91]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 27 March 1951, a Douglas C-47A-75-DL Dakota 3 cargo aircraft operated by Air Transport Charter[92] and en route to Nutts Corner, Antrim, Northern Ireland, crashed at Heyhead shortly after take-off from runway 06, following the aircraft's failure to gain height. There were four fatalities – two of the three crew on board and two of the three passengers. The subsequent investigation found that the crash resulted from a loss of engine power, caused by ice forming in the carburettor intakes, attributable to the captain's failure to use the heat controls. An extended undercarriage and snow on the wings may have also been contributory factors.[93]
  • On 14 March 1957, British European Airways Flight "Bealine 411" operated by Vickers Viscount 701 (registration G-ALWE) inbound from Amsterdam crashed into houses in Shadow Moss Road, Woodhouse Park. The aircraft was on final approach to Runway 24 at Manchester Airport and the crash was due to a flap failure, caused by fatigue of a wing bolt. All 20 occupants on board died, as did two on the ground.
  • On 29 April 1957, a Miles Aerovan Type 4 crashed on takeoff due to fuel pump failure. 2 on board were killed including the pilot.
  • On 4 June 1967, a British Midland International Canadair C-4 Argonaut (registration G-ALHG) was inbound from Palma and crashed near the centre of Stockport after loss of engine power due to fuel problems and an aborted approach to Manchester Airport, with 72 fatalities.
  • On 20 March 1969, Vickers Viscount G-AVJA of British Midland International crashed on take-off. Three of the four people on board were killed.[94]
  • On 22 August 1985, an engine of a Boeing 737–236 Advanced, operated by British Airtours, failed during take-off from runway 24, the fire spreading into the cabin, resulting in 55 fatalities (mostly from smoke inhalation) aboard the Boeing 737–236 Advanced G-BGJL. The uncontained engine failure was later traced to an incorrectly repaired combustor causing the turbine disc to shatter and puncture the wing fuel tanks.[95][96] As a result, fire resistance and evacuation procedures were improved.[97]

Aviation Viewing Park

Concorde BOAC in its hangar at the Aviation Viewing Park.

Manchester Airport has had public viewing areas since the airport opened to the public in 1938. The 1960/1970s pier-top viewing facilities have been closed because of security concerns. In May 1992, an official "Aviation Viewing Park" (AVP) was created just off the A538 road on the south-western side of the airfield. This was moved to the western side of the airfield in May 1997 to allow construction of the second runway.[98] Renamed the "Runway Visitor Park" in June 2010, the facility is regarded as providing the best official viewing facilities for aircraft spotting at any major UK airport by aircraft enthusiasts.[99] Visitors can view aircraft taking off and landing from both runways and aircraft taxiing to and from the runways. This attraction now draws around 300,000 visitors a year and is one of Greater Manchester's top 10 attractions.[100]


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  • Scholefield, R. A.; MacDonald, Steve (1978). First and foremost: 50 years of Manchester's civic airports. Manchester: Manchester International Airport Authority.
  • Scholefield, R. A. (1998). Manchester Airport. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-1954-X.

External links

Media related to Manchester Airport at Wikimedia Commons
Manchester Airport travel guide from Wikivoyage