Manchester ‘should be second UK airport hub’

Manchester Airport

The bosses of Manchester Airport have called on UK Government Ministers to recognise the critical role the airport will play in driving Northern growth and rebalancing the UK — if it is enabled to reach its full potential.

The Government’s Aviation 2050 Green Paper consultation closes on June 20.

And Manchester, currently the UK’s third biggest airport, called for a firm commitment to the North as it edged closer to a record high of 30 million passengers.

Manchester Airport bosses say the UK Government has the opportunity through its Aviation Strategy to set out a clear plan for Manchester to develop into the UK’s second hub airport, connected to all parts of the North via the proposed high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail network, and to all parts of the world by attracting further long haul routes.

Last month saw Manchester Airport reach 28.9 million annual passengers, with the airport set to hit 30 million by the end of the financial year.

May saw it welcome 2.6 million passengers through its three terminals.

Manchester Airport is going through the largest investment in its 80 year history – the £1 billion transformation of its terminal and airfield infrastructure – which will help it unlock spare capacity on its existing two runways.

Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan said: “As we edge closer to the 30 million passenger mark, our role as the UK’s global gateway in the North becomes even clearer.

“Government has rightly recognised Manchester as a ‘national’ airport in its Aviation 2050 Green Paper and it is vital that is used as a platform to develop a proper understanding of our potential to drive economic growth and prosperity across the North.

“The are some key interventions only Government can make, such as large-scale investment in transformative projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and the reform of aviation taxes to help stimulate new long haul connections from gateways like Manchester.

“With the right support, coupled with our own £1 billion investment, Manchester Airport can be an even greater engine of growth for the North by giving people and businesses access to the world’s most important markets.”

As well as welcoming more than 2.6 million passengers last month, May also saw two key routes launch from Manchester.

El Al, the national carrier of Israel, joined easyJet with a service to Tel Aviv and Virgin Atlantic started flights to Los Angeles, a route Thomas Cook Airlines also operates.

Last July, parent firm Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said its revenue rose 10.2% to £818.1 million in the year to March 31, 2018, and passenger numbers at all its airports rose 6.7% to 58.9 million.

MAG owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports and is privately managed on behalf of its shareholders — Australian investment fund IFM Investors (35.5%), Manchester City Council (35.5%) and nine other Greater Manchester councils (29%).

Total dividends for the year to MAG’s owners rose 17.8% to £166 million.