Manchester Airport’s MD discusses the £1bn development programme announced earlier this year and how the project will transform the airport for passengers, airlines, the region, the country and our shareholders.

By Ken O’Toole, Managing Director of Manchester Airport

Ken O'Toole Manchester AirportIN JUNE, I was delighted to be able to unveil a £1billion transformation development programme for Manchester Airport. The 10-year phased investment programme will transform the airport, ensuring that it continues to thrive as a national asset and play an even greater role as the UK’s Global Gateway from the North.

So why now?

In recent years, Manchester Airport has gone through a period of significant growth and this year reached an all-time record for passenger numbers of 23 million. Our location in the North West, together with exceptional road and rail connectivity, means customers of Manchester Airport are drawn from as far North as Scotland, and as South as the Midlands.

It’s my intention to ensure Manchester Airport continues to develop as a thriving international hub providing new direct services for the benefit of the UK economy.

It is increasingly the case that customers do not have to fly through a London airport to reach their final destination and, as we grow frequencies and add new routes, we’re confident people using Manchester Airport will see our national importance increase further.

We have more routes than any other UK airport and a network of long haul destinations such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Jeddah, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles (from 2016) that are not accessible from anywhere else in the UK outside
of London. From next June, we will have the only direct flight to Beijing outside of Heathrow.

Manchester Airport also has the ability to handle up to 55 million passengers a year, so while some airports in the South East are congested, we, along with other UK airports, have the ability to help resolve the nation’s aviation capacity issue right now.

With all that in mind, we want to build on the success and contribution the airport makes to the Northern economy by investing in transforming our facilities and the experience we offer to passengers.

This programme will transform the airport for passengers,

airlines, the region, the country and our shareholders, offering even greater levels of customer service; increased airport resilience and reliability, and improved environmental performance.

What will it look like?

The ‘Manchester Airport Transformation Programme’ is a series of 60 enhancements that will provide the millions of passengers that use the airport every year with facilities that combine a contemporary look and feel with state of the art services.

The key element of the Transformation Programme is the expansion and reconfiguration of Terminal Two, to become the airport’s primary terminal building. Terminal Three will also be improved and expanded to cater for increased demand and an expanding flight schedule.

As part of the programme, all passengers will see significant improvements including the latest self-service check-in terminals, improved security processing, more e-gates and new lounges and stands. It will allow us to introduce the latest technology and systems to improve passengers’ experience and make it easier to travel through the airport.

The key elements of the Transformation Programme include:
  • The expansion and reconfiguring of Terminal 2, to become the airport’s primary terminal building
  • Improvement of Terminal 3 to cater for increased demand and an expanding flight schedule
  • The introduction of new and enlarged airside transfer facilities, including the direct linkage between Terminals 2 and 3
  • US pre-clearance facility, allowing passengers to clear immigration, customs, and agricultural inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before boarding their flight
  • Introduction of the latest technology in a new, enlarged security hall that will screen more passengers, quicker
  • The introduction of a host of new
    customer friendly enhancements,
    including self-service check-in facilities and around 50 food and beverage and retail outlets
  • Creation of a ‘future-proofed’ operational airport environment that provides greater flexibility and resilience to cater to evolving airline and security needs
  • The introduction of new stands and piers, offering better departure gate facilities
  • Improved surface access road system making it easier for customers to come to and from our airport
How will the transformation project be delivered?

The initial focus of investment through to the summer of 2019 is to complete the works needed to provide sufficient infrastructure capacity to allow for the upgrade and modernisation of the facilities.

The airport will remain fully operational throughout the transformation programme. We have carefully planned the lifecycle of the programme to minimise any disruption to passengers, airlines or the community in which we operate

Over the 10 years, works will be commissioned and completed in phases, giving us control over timings and budgeting, so should we need it, we can adjust for eventualities such as changing market conditions.

A transformation programme of this length and scale will have a significant, positive impact on employment opportunities in the region and we expect it to support 1,500 jobs on site. It will be a major boost to the construction industry in the North West and the tendering process is already underway.

All airports have on-going asset investment programmes and we are bringing forward some of our existing 25-year capital expenditure plans into this 10-year project period. This makes sense because we can then grow in a far more flexible way and offer superior facilities and services to our passengers and airline customers.

The Future

The Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport have both recently highlighted Manchester Airport’s key role in the creation of a Northern Powerhouse. Over the long term, this role will be strengthened further with the delivery of high speed rail both to and across the North, enabling the airport to offer more passengers direct connections to a wider range of destinations.

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The airport currently creates £1.8 billion every year in economic activity in the local and regional economies. The airport already has over 20,000 people employed on site and supports a further 25,000 jobs indirectly.

This £1bn expansion and development will allow Manchester Airport to provide even greater economic stimulus into the region and in doing so, support the vision of a Northern Powerhouse becoming a reality. World class transport infrastructure is the lifeblood of every successful economy and for the Northern Powerhouse to really take off, it is imperative that the strong foundations that are already in place are built upon.

This is an exciting time for Manchester Airport as demand for air travel continues to rise. The Transformation Programme will enable us to capitalise on this demand from airlines and passengers whilst transforming the customer experience and delivering a world class airport that is the Global Gateway from the North.