Manchester Airport

From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
Manchester Airport
{{{picture caption}}}
County Cheshire
Owner Manchester Airports Group
Operator Manchester Airport Plc
Location 53°21’14"N, 2°16’30"W
Runway 10,000 feet

Manchester Airport (IATA: MAN, ICAO: EGCC), is an international airport at Ringway, south of Wythenshaw in northern Cheshire. In 2014, it was the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom in terms of passenger numbers.[1] Manchester Airport is the largest outside the London region with over double the passengers of the next non-London airport, Edinburgh Airport. A Category 10 airport,[2] Manchester Airport provides flights to around 225 destinations – more than any other airport in the United Kingdom.[3] The airport comprises three terminals, a goods terminal and is the only British airport other than London's Heathrow Airport to operate two runways over 3,280 yards in length. The airport covers an area of 1,440 acres.

The terminals are 8.6 miles (7.5 nautical miles) southwest of Manchester city centre.

The airport officially opened on 25 June 1938[4] as Ringway Airport'. During the Second World War, it was called RAF Ringway, as a base for the Royal Air Force. From 1975 until 1986 it was Manchester International Airport'.

The airport is owned and managed by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), a holding company part owned by the Australian finance house IFM Investers and the rest of the shares hed by the local metropolitan borough councils. The airport has numerous transport links and is served by the M56 motorway, a dedicated Metrolink tram line and a railway station which provides direct rail connections to Manchester city centre and to the cities of Yorkshire and the north.

The airport regularly handled the supersonic transport Concorde and houses the British Airways G-BOAC flagship Concorde at the Manchester Runway Visitor Park.

Ringway, after which the airport was originally named, still exists as a village with a few buildings and church at the southern edge of the airport. The airport currently handles 20.8 million passengers annually (2013) and spare capacity exists for up to 50 million passengers annually.[5] However, this potential figure is limited by aircraft movements. The airport currently has a total maximum capacity of 61 aircraft movements per hour.[6] Vacant land exists for expansion, future developments include the £800 million 'Manchester Airport City' scheme aims to create logistics, manufacturing, office and hotel space adjacent to the airport. Ongoing transport improvements include a new fourth railway platform which is currently under construction; future plans include a dedicated relief road and a High Speed 2 station.


Early years

Map (1925) of the area where the Airport and Wythenshawe are now found

The construction of an airport to be known as Ringway Airport began on 28 November 1935. It opened partly in June 1937 and completely on 25 June 1938, in Ringway parish north of Wilmslow. Its north border was Yewtree Lane (on this map, the lane between Firtree Farm and The Grange, east of the crossroads marked "Ringway"). Its southeast border was a little west of Altrincham Road (Styal) (the lane from Oversleyford running northeast then east into the Styal area.)

During World War II it was the Royal Air Force's base RAF Ringway, and was important in military aircraft production and training parachutists. After World War II, the base reverted to a civilian airport, and gradually expanded to its present size, and was named "Manchester Airport".

Historically, Manchester Airport has consistently been the busiest airport after Heathrow for a number of decades following the War.[7]

In 1972, the M56 motorway opened to the airport. By 1993, the airport railway station opened. From 1997 to 2001 its second runway was built, causing large-scale protests in the area.

Later events

More recently British Airways have scaled down operations from the 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 was terminated as well. This leaves a daily high frequency BA Shuttle serving London Heathrow.

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 coordinating the arrival and departure times of various domestic services throughout the day and thereby creating combinations such as Norwich-Manchester-Belfast, Glasgow-Manchester-Southampton or even Edinburgh-Manchester-Exeter, and others to be accomplished in each direction with conveniently short transfer times.[8]

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 further roll-outs subsequently including Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Initially, these services are operated by aircraft 'wet-leased' from Aer Lingus. There are currently four flights in each direction between Manchester and London which are described as timed to coincide with Virgin Atlantic's international schedules. However, Virgin have announced that from March 2015 the Little Red services will cease due to low popularity. Therefore, the MAN/EDI/ABZ routes will stop early 2015.[9]

Future airport expansion

Manchester Airport viewed from the south
Terminal 1 skylink

As part of the Government's 'The 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 3 has already begun, to make way for a new apron and taxiway towards runway 05L/23R, and an eastwards extension of Terminal 3, which is planned to provide 15 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.

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 2 is due to receive a major extension, to encompass current remote stands to the west. A satellite terminal is also projected for Terminal 2. 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.

Terminal 3 acquired an extra security control area in November 2007, near check-in area C, dedicated to passengers travelling to Common Travel Area (CTA) destinations. In January 2008, the usage was extended to all Terminal 3 passengers, with the exception of those destined for Frankfurt, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Brussels. This new security control area is now used for all departures from Terminal 3; the old security area has now closed and the area which it once covered is now part of the Terminal 3 air-side departure lounge, housing retail outlets.

There also plans to create a business centre to help encourage businesses to set up in Manchester.

A wide view of Manchester Airport showing much of Terminal 1 and a portion of Terminal 3 (back right) as well as the taxiway and old control tower


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 Manchester Airport railway station and the Radisson BLU Hotel. The Skylink started construction in 1996 and opened 1997. Expansion to the Radisson Hotel was completed in 1998 when the hotel opened.


Passenger numbers at Manchester peaked in 2006 when over 22.4 million passed through the airport. In 2014 around 22 million passengers used the airport, an increase of 6% compared with 2013, making Manchester the third busiest airport in the UK in terms of annual passenger throughput.[1]

Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200ER
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400
Qatar AirwaysAirbus A330-200
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER
Monarch Airlines Airbus A321-200
Thomson Airways Boeing 787-8
United Airlines Boeing 757-200


Maintenance bases

Manchester Airport is the home to the engineering bases of Thomas Cook Airlines and Monarch Airlines. Airlines such as Etihad Airways also have one of six maintenance bases worldwide in Manchester with their newly opened line maintenance facility.[10]

World Freight Terminal

Antonov An-225 at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport has a World Freight Terminal, serving cargo-only freighter services and cargo carried on regular passenger flights.[11] It was opened in 1986, west of the original airfield. There are 550,000 square feet 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 Regional Cargo, Swissport Cargo, Menzies World Cargo, Plane Handling and Servisair. There are over 100 freight forwarding companies on site.[11]

Freight throughput at the airport grew from 94,000 tons in 1997 to the peak at 165,000 tons in 2007, but then declined to around 97,000 tons in 2012, making Manchester the fifth-busiest UK airport for freight behind London Heathrow, East Midlands, London Stansted and Gatwick airports.[1]


The A538 road running beneath both runways

Manchester Airport has two parallel runways. Runway 1 (23R/05L) and Runway 2 (23L/05R). The parallel runways lie 1,280 feet apart and staggered by 6,070 feet so that landings can be conducted independently on one runway whilst take-offs are conducted on the other.[12]

The original main runway, then designated 06/24 and initially 3,300 feet in length,[13] opened on 17 May 1937[14] 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,[15] became operational on 5 February 2001[14] at a cost of £172 million,[15] and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in Britain for over 20 years.[15] 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[16] and because of the added flight paths which lead to and from the second runway. This results in aircraft flying low over the residential areas of Knutsford[17] and Stockport when landing or taking off, in particular landing aircraft which do not follow 'Preferred Noise Routes'.[18]

Planning permission for Runway 2 (23L/05R) permits use of both runways between the hours of 0600-2200.[14] At night between the hours of 2200-0600 single runway operations based on Runway 1 (23R/05L) are used.[14] 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.[19]

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.[14] 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,[14] operations are reversed with aircraft landing from the southwest, lining up to the south over Northwich and over Knutsford and taking off towards Stockport.[14] In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 2 (05R) and depart from Runway 1 (05L).[14] Sometimes, aircraft arriving into Manchester Airport are held in stacks, usually in poor weather when the movement rate decreases.[14] The airport has 3 stacks: DAYNE, MIRSI and ROSUN, each located approximately 15/20 miles from the airport.[14] DAYNE serves arrivals from the south, ROSUN from the north and east and MIRSI from the west.[14] If you live within 20 miles of the airport, you will likely see and hear aircraft.[14]

Control Tower

The new control tower, opened in June 2013

A new control tower was opened on 25 June 2013. At 197 feet tall, it is Britain's second tallest control tower, after London Heathrow, and it replaces the old tower on top of Terminal 1.[20]

Public attractions

Concorde BOAC in her hangar at the Aviation Viewing Park
ex-BEA Hawker Siddeley Trident

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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

The visitor park also has a cafe and a shop selling aviation related items. Aircraft on display are:

  • G-BOAC, a retired British Airways Concorde, once the flagship of the airline's seven-strong Concorde fleet. The project to build a hangar for the jet was delayed due to the discovery of protected Great Crested Newts[24] on the site, which the airport is under obligation to rehouse at their own expense. The aircraft was moved into the hangar on 13 January 2009.
  • The last airliner to be built in the UK, BAE Systems Avro RJX G-IRJX.
  • The forward fuselage of Monarch Airlines Douglas DC-10 G-DMCA, which was retired in 2002.
  • One of only two preserved Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B aircraft, G-AWZK in full BEA livery.
  • A former RAF Nimrod aircraft. The aircraft was moved into place in April 2010.[25]

Level 13 of the short-stay car park at Terminal 1 has another viewing location, popular with spotters for the last 32 years. As part of a recent refurbishment, the café and aviation shop which were once part of the viewing area have now been closed, with the aviation shop moving to the Terminal 1 arrivals area. The level (13) is now used as a car park for rental cars. The building that once housed the cafe and aviation shop is now the reception area/offices for the car rental companies. Spotting is still tolerated on level 13, and it is still a good place to take pictures of aircraft taxiing and parked up at Terminal 1, Terminal 2, the World Freight Terminal and the hangars. Terminal 3 stands are not visible from level 13; they are better viewed from the south side of the airport near Moss Lane.

The Airport Hotel is a public house operated by Robinson's Brewery, and is on Ringway Road about half a mile from the airport. Its beer garden overlooks the east end of Taxiway J and the eastern threshold of runway 23R which are only fifty feet away and provides good views of east-west landing approaches and some take-off rolls.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Manchester Airport)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "UK Annual Airport Statistics". UK Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  2. "Manchester Airport is 'ready' for A380 Super Jumbo". BBC News. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  3. "Manchester Airport Factsheet". Manchester Airport. Retrieved 2014-09-05. 
  4. Scholefield 1998, p. 10
  5. "Transport Committee Written evidence from Manchester Airports Group (AS 44)". 19 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  7. "Southend Airport's revival gets under way". The Telegraph. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012. "It is hoped this will be the beginning of a comeback for the airport, which, during the Sixties, was Britain's third-busiest, behind Heathrow and Manchester" 
  8. "Corporate Media News archive". Flybe. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  9. "Daily flights from Manchester to London Heathrow". Virgin Atlantic. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  10. "Etihad marks two more Manchester milestones". Etihad Airways. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "World Freight Terminal". Manchester Airport. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  13. Scholefield 1998, p. 17
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11$File/RunwayDataSheet.pdf
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Fact Sheet: Airport Summary". Manchester Airport. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  16. Flight path to destruction
  17. "Knutsford Guardian – Residents wait for airport to pay out". 19 December 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  18. "Community Operations". Manchester Airport. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  19. "Airport extends second runway opening hours to cope with demand". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  20. "Manchester Airport's new £20 million control tower is complete". Manchester Airport. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  21. Scholefield 1998, p. 133
  22. "Guide to Manchester Airport". Plane Mad. Retrieved 27 April 2012. "Out of all UK airports, Manchester is probably the best for viewing and photography with many very good spots." 
  23. "Lowry Tops Visitor Attraction Figures in Greater Manchester". Manchester Confidential. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  24. "Airport newts halt Concorde home". BBC News. 19 September 2008. 
  25. "RAF Nimrod MR2 XV231". Manchester Airport. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 


  • 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.