Manchester Airport (IATA: MAN, ICAO: EGCC) is an international airport in Ringway, 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.[3][5] The airport comprises three passenger terminals and a goods terminal, and is the only airport in the UK other than London 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. In the Second World War, as RAF Ringway, it was a base for the Royal Air Force. The airport is owned and managed by the Manchester Airports Group (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. The airport handled 27.8 million passengers in 2017, a record total,[3] and has capacity for up to 50 million passengers annually.[8] This potential figure is limited by the airport's restriction to 61 aircraft movements per hour.[9] Future developments include the £800 million Manchester Airport City logistics, manufacturing, office and hotel space next to the airport and transport improvements such as the SEMMMS relief road and a High Speed 2 station.


Early years

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

Manchester Airport (earlier called Ringway Airport) started construction on 28 November 1935 and opened partly in June 1937 and completely on 25 June 1938, in Ringway parish, north of Wilmslow.[citation needed] 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.

During the Second World War, it was the Royal Air Force's base RAF Ringway and 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. Historically, Manchester Airport was consistently the busiest airport after Heathrow for a number of decades following the war.[10]

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.[citation needed]

Later events

Apron view in 1972

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. In codeshare with British Airways Oneworld Alliance partner American Airlines operations remain in Terminal 3 with daily flights to both New York–JFK and Chicago–O'Hare. American Airlines has since merged with US Airways, which offers year-round service to Philadelphia and operated a seasonal route to Charlotte, North Carolina in the summer of 2014 (now terminated).[11][12]

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 or even Edinburgh-Manchester-Exeter and others to be accomplished in each direction with conveniently short transfer times.[13]

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 'wet-leased' from Aer Lingus. However, these services ceased in March 2015 due to low popularity.[14]

As of October 2017 there is a second London route by Flybe to London-Southend operating up to thrice daily.[15]


Manchester Airport viewed from the south-west

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 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 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.[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) providing access to the trunk motorway network via Junction 6. DHL are the first tenant and are already using their shed. Another shed is now externally complete but the inside is now being fitted out in time for September when Amazon will move in. Over the next decade the site will generate around 10,000 jobs. 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 made no secret of ambitious 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 over coming years. Those neighbouring the Airport have natural concerns about how expansion will alter their lives. 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. The Skylink started construction in 1996 and opened 1997.

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 Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh,[16] and it is a base for EasyJet, Jet2 and Thomas Cook. Some other airlines that fly out of Terminal 1 include Aer Lingus, Air Transat, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Swiss, TAP 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.[17] Terminal 1's current capacity is around 11 million passengers a year,[18] compared with an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers when it first opened.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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 began 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.[18] 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.[21]

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 was opened in 1989 by Diana, Princess of Wales as 'Terminal A' and had many names before final 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 June 1998, British Airways opened their new £75 million terminal facility designed by Grimshaw Architects, this being a major extension to Terminal 3 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).

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Manchester:[22]

Airlines Destinations
Adria Airways Seasonal: Ljubljana
Aegean Airlines Seasonal: Athens
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aer Lingus Regional Cork, Dublin
Air Arabia Maroc Agadir[23]
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air Europa Seasonal charter: Palma de Mallorca,[24] Tenerife-South (begins 17 July 2018)[25]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Malta Malta (resumes 1 May 2018)[26]
Air Transat Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Vancouver
American Airlines Philadelphia
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
ASL Airlines France Seasonal charter: Chania, Corfu, Heraklion, Kefalonia, Kos, Preveza, Rhodes, Skiathos, Zakynthos[27]
Aurigny Guernsey
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Seasonal: Innsbruck
Belavia Seasonal: Minsk
BH Air Seasonal charter: Burgas, Varna
British Airways Billund,[28] Gothenburg,[28] London–City, London–Heathrow
Seasonal: Alicante, Chambéry,[29] Dublin (begins 20 May 2018),[30] Florence (begins 19 May 2018),[31] Ibiza, Málaga, Mykonos, Nice, Palma de Mallorca,[32] Salzburg[33]
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Cobalt Air Larnaca
Condor Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Burgas, Heraklion, Kos, Lanzarote, Zakynthos
easyJet Agadir,[34] Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Basel/Mulhouse, Belfast-International, Berlin–Schönefeld, Bilbao, Catania, Copenhagen, Funchal, Geneva,Genoa,Gibraltar, Granada, Hamburg, Kraków, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Marseille, Milan–Malpensa, Munich, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Pisa, Porto, Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Sofia, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tenerife–South, Thessaloniki, Venice, Vienna
Seasonal: Antalya, Bastia, Cephalonia, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik,[35] Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Lyon, Mykonos, Olbia, Preveza, Santorini, Split, Tivat, Turin
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
Eurowings Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Salzburg[36]
Finnair Helsinki
Flybe Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Hannover, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, London–Southend, Luxembourg,[37][38] Lyon, Milan–Malpensa, Newquay, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Southampton, Toulouse
Seasonal: Calvi (begins 2 May 2018),[39] Chambéry, Innsbruck, La Rochelle, Nantes, Rennes[40]
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital
Iberia Express Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
Iraqi Airways Baghdad[41]
Jet2.com Alicante, Budapest, Funchal, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Málaga, Paphos, Prague, Rome–Fiumicino, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Almeria, Antalya, Barcelona, Bergerac (begins 26 May 2018),[42] Bodrum, Cephalonia, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Geneva, Girona, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kefalonia, Kraków, Kos, Larnaca, Lyon, Malta, Menorca, Murcia, Naples, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Pula, Reus, Rhodes, Salzburg, Split, Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Venice, Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam
Loganair Bergen (begins 10 May 2018), Inverness, Norwich
Seasonal: Kirkwall (begins 22 June 2018) [43], Stornoway (begins 23 June 2018), Sumburgh (begins 23 June 2018)
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Norwegian Air Shuttle Stockholm–Arlanda
Seasonal: Oslo–Gardermoen, Stavanger
Oman Air Muscat
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad, Lahore
Pegasus Airlines Seasonal: Dalaman
Primera Air Málaga (begins 24 October 2018)[44]
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Ryanair Agadir (begins 3 June 2018),[45] Alicante, Barcelona, Belfast-International, Bratislava, Brindisi, Bergamo, Berlin–Schönefeld, Budapest, Charleroi, Carcassonne, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Eindhoven, Faro, Frankfurt, Fuerteventura, Gdańsk, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Kraków, Lanzarote, Limoges, Lisbon, Madrid, Málaga, Malta, Murcia, Naples, Nuremberg, Palma de Mallorca, Porto (begins 2 June 2018),[45] Riga, Rome–Ciampino, Rzeszów, Sandefjord, Seville, Shannon, Stuttgart, Tenerife–South, Treviso (begins 1 June 2018),[45] Valencia, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Almeria (begins 1 June 2018)[45] Béziers, Bologna, Cagliari (begins 4 June 2018),[45] Chania, Corfu, Girona, Ibiza, Palermo (begins 2 June 2018),[45] Ponta Delgada (begins 7 June 2018),[45] Rhodes (begins 3 June 2018),[45] Reus (begins 2 June 2018),[45] Zadar
Saudia Jeddah
Seasonal: Riyadh[46]
Scandinavian Airlines Bergen, Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, Stockholm–Arlanda
Singapore Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, Singapore
Small Planet Airlines Seasonal charter: Alicante, Faro, Fuerteventura, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
Thai Airways Bangkok (begins 1st December 2018)[citation needed]
Thomas Cook Airlines Alicante, Antalya, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Enfidha,[47] Gran Canaria, Holguín, Hurghada, Lanzarote, Las Vegas, New York–JFK, Orlando, Punta Cana, Tenerife–South, Varadero
Seasonal: Almería, Antigua, Banjul, Barbados, Boston, Bodrum, Burgas, Cape Town,[48] Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik (begins 13 May 2018),[49] Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal (begins 3 May 2018), Girona (begins 5 May 2018),[50][51] Goa, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Izmir, Kalamata, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Los Angeles, Malta, Marrakech (begins 10 October 2018), [52] Menorca, Mykonos, Mytilene (begins 5 May 2018),[53] Montego Bay (begins 6 May 2019), Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Preveza/Lekfas, Reus, Rhodes, Sal, San Francisco,[54] Santa Clara (begins 12 May 2018),[55][56] Santorini, Seattle/Tacoma (begins 27 May 2018),[57] Skiathos, Split, St Lucia, Thessaloniki (begins 2 May 2018),[53] Tobago,[58] Turin, Varna (begins 29 May 2018),[53] Zakynthos
Titan Airways Seasonal charter: Zadar[59]
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
TUI Airways Agadir, Alicante, Boa Vista, Cancun, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Innsbruck, La Palma, Lanzarote, Málaga, Malta, Marrakech, Montego Bay, Paphos, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Sal, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Alghero, Almeria, Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum,Burgas, Catania, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Enfidha (resumes 1 May 2018), Faro, Girona, Goa, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Ivalo, Izmir, Jerez, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Larnaca, Menorca, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Olbia, Orlando–Sanford, Phuket, Podgorica (begins 16 May 2018),[60] Porto Santo, Preveza, Puerto Plata, Pula, Reus, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rhodes, Santorini, Skiathos, Split, Thessaloniki, Varna (begins 11 May 2018), [61] Venice, Zakynthos
Seasonal charter: Chambéry, Geneva, Innsbruck, Kuusamo, Salzburg, Sofia, Toulouse, Turin,[62] Verona[62]
United Airlines Newark
Virgin Atlantic Atlanta, Barbados, New York-JFK,[63] Orlando
Seasonal: Boston, Las Vegas, San Francisco
Vueling Barcelona


Airlines Destinations
DHL Aviation Leipzig/Halle
FedEx Express Birmingham, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
FedEx Feeder London–Stansted
Lufthansa Cargo Frankfurt


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[64] Number of Movements[65] 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
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[3]

Busiest routes

Busiest routes to and from Manchester (2016)[66]
Rank Airport Total
2015 / 16
1 Netherlands Amsterdam 1,013,260 Increase 18.7%
2 Republic of Ireland Dublin 978,649 Increase 14.0%
3 United Arab Emirates Dubai–International 932,315 Increase 8.3%
4 Spain Tenerife–South 862,411 Increase 18.9%
5 Spain Alicante 807,153 Increase 28.0%
6 Spain Palma de Mallorca 757,792 Increase 13.7%
7 Spain Málaga 694,440 Increase 24.7%
8 United Kingdom London–Heathrow 692,960 Decrease 10.7%
9 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle 567,409 Increase 18.8%
10 Portugal Faro 512,833 Increase 20.8%
11 United States Orlando 490,439 Increase 8.8%
12 Spain Lanzarote 452,108 Increase 13.7%
13 Spain Barcelona 446,252 Increase 56.9%
14 United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 436,139 Increase 1.0%
15 Germany Frankfurt 386,522 Decrease 0.9%
16 Germany Munich 342,496 Increase 5.5%
17 Qatar Doha 336,461 Increase 14.7%
18 Denmark Copenhagen 334,894 Increase 12.7%
19 United States New York–JFK 321,887 Increase 38.3%
20 Cyprus Paphos 299,897 Increase 12.1%


Maintenance bases

Manchester Airport is the home to the engineering bases of Thomas Cook Airlines and Jet2.com. Airlines such as Etihad Airways also have one of six maintenance bases worldwide in Manchester with their newly opened line maintenance facility.[67]

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.[68] 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 Regional Cargo, Swissport Cargo, Menzies World Cargo, Plane Handling and Servisair. There are over 100 freight forwarding companies on site.[68]

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) 3,050 m × 45 m (10,007 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.[69]

The original main runway, then designated 06/24 and initially 3,300 ft (1,006 m) in length,[70] opened on 17 May 1937[71] 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,[72] became operational on 5 February 2001[71] at a cost of £172 million,[72] and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in Britain for over 20 years.[72] 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[73] 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.[74] 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.[71] At night between the hours of 2200-0600 single runway operations based on Runway 1 (23R/05L) are used.[71] 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.[75]

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.[71] 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,[71] operations are reversed with aircraft landing from the southwest, lining up to the south over Northwich and over Knutsford and taking off towards Stockport.[71] In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 2 (05R) and depart from Runway 1 (05L).[71] Sometimes, aircraft arriving into Manchester Airport are held in stacks, usually in poor weather when the movement rate decreases.[71] The airport has 3 stacks: DAYNE, MIRSI and ROSUN, each located approximately 15/20 miles from the airport.[71] DAYNE serves arrivals from the south, ROSUN from the north and east and MIRSI from the west.[71] If you live within 20 miles of the airport, you will likely see and hear aircraft.[71]

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.[76]


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.[77]
  • 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.[78] 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.[79]
  • 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.[80]
  • 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.[81]
  • 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.[82]

Ground transport

TransPennine Express Class 185 arriving at 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 railway station, opened in May 1993,[83] is between Terminals 1 and 2. It is linked to the terminals by a Skylink moving walkway. Trains operated by Northern or TransPennine Express connect the airport to Manchester Piccadilly station and other railway stations, mainly throughout northern England, including Crewe, Wigan and Southport. A third rail 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.[84] 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.[85] Construction finished in May 2015 and the platform opened to passengers in autumn 2015.[86]


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.[87][88] 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,[89] including the 24-hour bus service 43,[90] 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 and Arriva 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 has been approved. Planning permission has been granted, with inquiries for Compulsory Purchase and Side Roads Orders to follow in September 2014.[91]

Taxi ranks are situated by arrivals at all three terminals.


The airport's official short-stay car parking can be found in the multi-storey 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. The airport forces the public to pay charges to enter short stay "Pick-Up Car Parks" to maximise revenue instead of providing a convenient "Pick-Up Lane" where friends and family could collect passengers conveniently and quickly.

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".[92]

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.

Effect on the area; criticism

Expansion of the airport caused closures of public roads in the area.

  • Early development closed Yewtree Lane, which ran across the modern terminal area.
  • Building the goods terminal closed country lanes to the southwest of the airport area.
  • The 1982 expansion cut the A538 road from Altrincham to Wilmslow and diverted it south through a tunnel under the runway: unlike with London Heathrow Airport not all the area is flat: to the south the land drops sharply into the Bollin river valley and the runway extension needed heavy embankment building.
  • Building the second runway put the A538 through another tunnel and (this caused public protest and sit-ins) removed some woodland in the Styal area. It also closed a through country lane from Styal southwest to the A538. Although under the terms of the Planning Permission agreement Manchester Airport made funds available to build a replacement road, Cheshire County Council instead chose to use the monies on short term public transport funding.
  • 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[93] and Cedar's Wood. Swampy, a well known activist, was among many protesters.[94]
  • The natural eastward expansion of car parks displaced the community of Heyhead.
  • 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[74] and home owners who were able to prove that their property had lost value as a result of these changes have been compensated by the airport. As a further gesture of goodwill the airport paid the precept of tax payers to Mobberley Parish and Knutsford Town Councils, made some payments to individual property owners (who had not taken action to prove loss of property value) and made payments to Schools in Knutsford/Mobberley.

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.[95] Macclesfield Borough Council have said that they would consider giving planning permission for a new car park on brownfield land. The airport did not make another application for parking in this area and land to the north of the site had instead to be used to ensure sufficient spaces were available. Areas around Styal village continue to be used by private enterprise parking companies not owned or managed by Manchester Airport.

Despite public concerns about privacy and health risks,[96] Manchester Airport introduced full-body X-ray scanners in all terminals. Under Department for Transport regulations these scans were compulsory for all passengers selected to undergo the scan. Passengers who objected to the scans were not allowed to fly.[97]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 27 March 1951, a Douglas C-47A-75-DL Dakota 3 cargo aircraft operated by Air Transport Charter[98] and en route to Nutts Corner Airport, 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.[99]
  • 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 take off due to fuel pump failure. 2 on board were killed including the pilot.
  • On 4 June 1967 – Stockport Air DisasterBritish Midland Airways 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 Airways crashed on take-off. Three of the four people on board were killed.[100]
  • On 22 August 1985 – British Airtours Flight 28M – an engine 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.[101][102] As a result, fire resistance and evacuation procedures were improved.[103]

Public attractions

Concorde BOAC in its hangar at the Aviation Viewing Park.
ex-British European Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B preserved at the Aviation Viewing Park. Delivered new in 1971, G-AWZK flew for BEA and British Airways, retiring in 1985.

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.[104] 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.[105] 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.[106]

The visitor park also has a café 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[107] 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 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod aircraft. The aircraft was moved into place in April 2010.[108]

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 café 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 0.5 mi (0.80 km) from the airport. Its beer garden overlooks the east end of Taxiway J and the eastern threshold of runway 23R which are only 50 ft (15 m) away and provides good views of east-west landing approaches and some take-off rolls.


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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