Manchester Airport £1 billion plans to improve airport to compete better with Heathrow on long haul routes

The owners of Manchester Airport, MAG, plan to invest £1 billion over 10 years to upgrade Britain’s 3rd largest airport and help it compete harder with Heathrow for passengers. While both Heathrow and Gatwick are hoping to be allowed to add another runway, Manchester has two runways already – the second barely used.  It  has been expanding its long-haul routes, giving passengers an alternative to travelling south to Heathrow, and it plans to add more such routes.  Its CEO, Charlie Cornish said: “Over the next 10 years, the airport will continue to develop as a global gateway for the UK.”  Even if a new runway in the south east is approved (a big IF) it would take at least 10 years to build and in that time other UK airports, such as Birmingham and Manchester will have the chance to add new flights to new destinations – some assisting business travel.  The number of air passengers at Manchester rose last year by 6% and may rise by 5% in 2015-16 period.  Manchester airport expansion fits in with George Osborne’s hopes of improving road and rail links between northern English cities to create a conurbation with the scale and resources to compete with London. A new south east runway would, by contrast, just worsen the north-south divide.



Manchester Airport: £1bn plan to ‘transform’ site launched

2 June 2015 (BBC)
A £1bn programme to “transform” Manchester Airport has been announced.  Manchester Airports Group said it would provide “state-of-the-art facilities”  [The owners of Manchester airport are MAG, the Manchester Airports Group].

The 10-year plan will include the expansion of Terminal 2, self-service check-in facilities and a larger security hall.

Facilities are planned to allow passengers to go through the United States’ immigration process before they board transatlantic flights.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said the investment will mean it “continues to thrive as a national asset”.

The work will also include improvements to Terminal 3 as well as create new food and retail outlets.

Airport design

The programme is expected to be completed by 2025

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “We’re setting out how the airport will contribute to the development of a ‘northern powerhouse’ and demonstrating the dynamic, ‘can-do’ spirit that sums up the region.

“The transformation programme will ensure the airport plays its full part in driving economic growth and develops as a key part of the UK transport infrastructure.”




Some other recent news stories:


Manchester Airport hopes to have over 30 million passengers per year by 2025

Manchester Airports Group boss Charlie Cornish says he hopes 30 million people will be using Manchester airport within 10 years. He also hopes it will have 55 million passengers in due course. The airport has finally this year reached its pre-recession level of 22 million passengers and is aiming to have 23.5 million next year. He said: “In three years, Manchester Airport will be vastly different to what it is today and in three years, it will be hugely different.” He hailed the success of Cathay Pacific’s direct route to Hong Kong, launched in December, which may increase to a daily service. He said rail links were very important: “If you have got northern cities linking to Manchester Airport, that allows Manchester Airport to operate more as a true northern gateway and will give people very quick and very efficient access to us….That will lead to the opportunity for more long haul flights and, in turn, the creation of economic wealth….HS2 is an interesting one. Northern cities have to take account of the fact it is a huge opportunity and it is a huge risk, as it will take people both north and south …”

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Manchester wants to persuade more in its catchment area not to fly via London airports

Manchester airport, the only UK airport apart from Heathrow to have two runways, had around 22 million passengers per year in 2005 and 2006, but then slumped down to a low point of 17.7 million by 2010. Passenger numbers have now grown, to return to the high point of 2006, and Manchester airport is feeling confident. It chief commercial officer says that their customers – leisure travellers and businesses – say they often prefer flying from Manchester, rather than having to travel to a London airport. However, around 4 million passengers from the airport’s catchment area still make the unnecessary journey to London airports every year. Manchester hopes to encourage more routes and better frequency services, to win these passengers and deter them from using London. He hopes this would help ease congestion at the London airport. Manchester is hoping to win increasing numbers of passengers, and it has its “Airport City” project close to the airport and hopes to “bolster our city’s growing presence as an international business and leisure destination.” The Greater Manchester built up area is the 2nd largest in the UK, after London, with a population of about 2.6 million, compared to about 9.8 million in London. There is logic in using Manchester’s capacity rather than building another south east runway.

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Manchester airport hope its first direct flight to Hong Kong will bring business and tourism boost

There is now a new direct Cathay Pacific flight from Manchester to China (Hong Kong), avoiding the need to hub via Heathrow, or any other European airport. This makes Manchester the first airport outside London to offer a non-stop direct route to China – which may be a boost to the region’s economy. There will be 4 flights per week. The airport hopes rich Chinese visitors – as well as business people – will come direct to Manchester, rather than all going to London. Manchester’s “Airport City” has had key investment from the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group. It has taken Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, 3 years to secure the link. Mr Cornish has been appealed to the Airports Commission to ensure the country’s future aviation needs are met by a ‘network of regional airports’ – rather than money ploughed solely into Gatwick and Heathrow. The route will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which can carry 300 passengers. From Hong Kong, passengers can connect to 22 cities in mainland China. As they have done successfully from flights from Heathrow for decades – without more direct city links from Heathrow. The UK has always had good links to Hong Kong, for historical reasons.

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Qatar Airways to increase Manchester flights

26 Nov 2014

Qatar Airways is to increase capacity on its Doha-Manchester route to make it double-daily service. The airline is currently operating 10 weekly flights on the route but this will increase to twice per day (ie. 14) from February 16, 2015 using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.   Qatar Airways is also planning to increase its Dreamliner service to Edinburgh from five-times weekly to daily (ie. 7)  from May 2015.   As part of its expansion of flights to Europe, the airline will increase Doha to Copenhagen frequencies from 7 to 11 per week, while Doha-Stockholm services will go from 7 to 10 per week. Both changes will take affect from February 2015.



Manchester City chief slams Heathrow’s ‘desperate’ attempt to woo Manchester business leaders

Heathrow has been working hard to try to get support for its 3rd runway from Chambers of Commerce across the country. It has been offering the Chambers in the north west around £3,000 to fund events to pitch their runway case. They want the regions to believe they risk losing their link to Heathrow if there is no new runway. Manchester Chamber of Commerce declined the offer, and Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese described Heathrow’s approach as ‘desperate’. He said: “I don’t think we should be supporting the Heathrow expansion plan. I think increasingly, evidence says that we don’t need the hub airport and what we ought to do is make better use of the network airports – including Manchester Airport…. What you see is both Heathrow and Gatwick increasingly losing the argument and getting increasingly desperate – as shown in this case. …. Why do our members want to traipse down to London when they can use the airport round the corner?” 25 Chambers have backed Heathrow, but Sir Richard Leese says of them they are getting an unbalanced view from Heathrow. “Perhaps I ought to write to London Chamber of Commerce to set up a meeting for Manchester Airport.”

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Manchester Airports boss deeply critical of likelihood of large public subsidy aiding Heathrow or Gatwick runway

The CEO of Manchester Airports group, Charlie Cornish, has protested about the likelihood of public funds being used to assist a new south east runway. He says:  “Given the private interests at stake, adopting a special set of rules that favours the delivery of new capacity over the use of existing capacity, will have profound adverse consequences for competition and consumers in the long-run.”  More public funds for London airports does not help regional airports. The Commission, in its consultation documents on Heathrow and Gatwick runway plans, does not give specific figures on anticipated public subsidy.  But it comments there “may be a case” for some funding by the public sector. Equally, if the airport benefits from surface transport paid for by the taxpayer “may mean that a contribution from the scheme promoter to these costs is justified.” State aid rules may also require an airport operator to make an appropriate payment, if it benefits from a surface access scheme. “The Government would need to reach its own view on the level of public investment that can be justified.”