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Manchester Airport is a major airport located at Ringwaymarker in the City of Manchestermarker within Greater Manchestermarker, UK, and is the busiest airport in the country outside the London region in terms of passenger numbers. It offers non-stop scheduled flights to destinations across Europe, North America, Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Far East.

A small part of the airport extends into Cheshire East. The terminals are located — southwest of Manchester city centremarker. It officially opened on 25 June 1938, and was initially known as Ringway Airport. During World War II it was called RAF Ringwaymarker, and from 1975 until 1986 the title was Manchester International Airport.

The airport is owned and managed by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which is a holding company owned by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchestermarker, and is the largest British-owned airport group. Each of these councils has their coat of arms displayed on banners hung from the lamp posts approaching the airport. The airport has won awards including World's Best Airport 1995 and Travel Weekly Globe Awards' UK Best Airport 2008. The airport has two parallel runways, three terminal and a ground transport interchange, including a railway stationmarker.

Manchester Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P712) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers and for flying instruction. In 2008, Manchester Airport handled 21,219,195 passengers with 204,610 aircraft movements, making it the fourth busiest airport in the United Kingdom in passenger numbers and third in terms of total aircraft movements.


The airport originated in mid 1934 when the location was selected to build an airfield. On 25 July 1934, Manchester City Council voted narrowly in favour of the Ringway site as the City's new airport. The site for the planned airport was at the time in the Cheshiremarker parish of Ringwaymarker (as it was south of the River Mersey).

Construction was ceremonially started by the Lord Mayor on 28 November 1935 and was completed for civil aviation use by early summer 1938. The airport was officially opened on 25 June 1938 during a public air display that included both civil and RAF aircraft and received its first scheduled flight, a KLM operated Douglas DC-2 from Amsterdam. The airport at this time was called Ringwaymarker, named after the parish it lay within. Pre-war, KLM was the only international operator out of Ringway and offered a request stop at Doncastermarker. 4000 passengers used the airport in 1938 and another 4000 during the first eight months of 1939, before declaration of war brought an end to civil operations.

Construction of a Royal Air Force station commenced in 1939 on the north east edge of the airfield. RAF Ringwaymarker was used for both operational flying and training. The main user was No.1 Parachute Training School RAF which trained over 60,000 paratroopers between June 1940 and March 1946. The trainees parachuted over Tatton Parkmarker, after receiving permission from land owner, Lord Egerton.

A complex of hangars and assembly sheds on the north west side of the airfield was used by Fairey Aviation for the construction, modification and testing of over 4,000 aircraft. From spring 1939, Avro used the 1938-built main hangar for assembly and testing the prototype Avro Manchester, Avro Lancaster and Avro Lincoln bombers. Three southside hangars were erected in 1942/1943 and used for the assembly of Avro York military transport aircraft.

The advent of heavier aircraft types resulted in the all-grass landing area being badly damaged in wet weather during the winter of 1940/41. The ruts froze during cold weather, damaging the undercarriages of taxying aircraft. Two asphalt runways of length were therefore hastily laid down between June and December 1941. The runways were designated 06/24 and 10/28. The former was lengthened to by January 1943 to accommodate the four-engined aircraft using RAF Ringway and the Runway 02/20 was constructed. Runways 02/20 and 10/28 ceased to be used by airliners by the mid 1950s but the latter was used by light aircraft for another 30 years. Both are permanently out of use.

After the war the airport grew massively. The first trans-atlantic schedule commenced on 28 October 1953, operated by Sabena Belgian World Airlines to New Yorkmarker's Idlewild Airportmarker (now JFK Airport). By 1958 the airport was handling 500,000 passengers annually. Twenty four hour operation was introduced on 1 April 1952. Another main runway extension (from to 7000 ft) was opened on 23 April 1958 permitting regular non-stop scheduled flights to North America. Terminal 1 was the airport's first purpose-built post-war terminal and opened in late 1962; Manchester was then the only airport in Europe to have aircraft piers.

In 1972 the airport was renamed "Manchester International Airport" and was designated an "international gateway" in the 1980s.In 1974, a Local Government Review placed the airport entirely within the city of Manchester boundaries in the new metropolitan Greater Manchestermarker area. However, due to constant expansion of the airport it had expanded back in to Cheshire by the early 1980s. The airport has since expanded farther in to Cheshire, mainly due to the second runway being almost entirely within Cheshire.

The main runway was extended to its current length of , opening on 17 August 1982 to attract long-haul flights from worldwide destinations. In 1988 the airport celebrated its Golden Jubilee and by this time was handling 9.5 million passengers annually. Due to increasing passenger numbers a second terminal was soon needed. In 1993, Terminal 2 and the airport railway stationmarker opened, connecting the airport to the national rail network.

Aircraft stands at Terminal 3
In 1997 planning approval was granted for the building of Manchester's "Runway Two", now Runway 23L/05R (the fourth runway to be constructed on the site) and work started the same year. It opened in 2001 at a cost of £172 million and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in the UK for over 20 years. Another milestone was achieved in 2004, when the airport reached 20 million passengers a year. Also that year, the new £60 million integrated public transport interchange was opened (called "The Station"), bringing bus, coach and rail passengers under one roof. Manchester Airport plans to accept Airbus A380 aircraft in the next few years, as part of the larger expansion at the airport and is already certified as a diversion aerodrome for A380 flights.

On 7 June 2007, at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST), Manchester Airport's runway assignments were changed in relation to the magnetic compass bearings. The previous headings for the runways were 056° and 236° with assignments 06L/24R and 06R/24L respectively. The new headings for the runways are 054° and 234° with new assignments of 05L/23R and 05R/23L respectively. The signs located on taxiways and entrances to the runway were changed on the evening of the 6 June 2007. The runway designators changed at the same time.

Passenger numbers

Number of Passengers Number of Movements 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
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority

Manchester is the fourth busiest airport in the UK and the biggest outside of London, in terms of annual passenger throughput.

In 2007, Manchester Airport was the world's 22nd busiest airport in terms of international passengers, down from 19th position in 2006 and 17th in 2005.

The airport's long range plan, published in July 2006, forecasts that passenger numbers will increase to approximately 38 million passengers annually by 2015. This would require an average annual growth rate from 2007 to 2015 of 7.1% and a sharp recovery from the reductions during the two years to December 2008. Further growth is postulated to 50 million by 2030.

In 2008 21.2 million passengers used Manchester Airport, a reduction of 4.0% compared with 2007 and below the 2004 total. There were 204,610 aircraft movements during the year, the third highest in the UK.


Manchester Airport is policed by the Greater Manchester Police. 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.
  • In 2004, the BBC's Whistleblower program revealed security failures at the airport, including faulty metal detectors and a lack of regular random baggage checks.
  • In 2005, after spotted acting suspiciously, police used a taser to shoot a man on the apron, after he appeared to resist arrest.
  • 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.

Terminals and destinations

Manchester Airport has three passenger terminals (Terminals 1, 2 and 3). Following recent structural work between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, there is no longer a covered link between the two facilities. Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by the skylink, with travelators to aid passengers with the 10-15 minute walk. The skylink also connects the terminals to the airport railway stationmarker complex (known as "The Station") and the Radisson SAS Hotel. Movement between Terminals 1 and 3 is via a short external uncovered pedestrian route; alternatively, a free bus service exists, which also serves "The Station".

The airport provides regular direct flights to destinations worldwide by 84 airlines. North American carriers at Manchester include American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways. UK operators serving the USA market are bmi (but see below) and Virgin Atlantic. Airlines serving the Asian market include Air Blue, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Pakistan International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Manchester has been an international hub for bmi which offered several destinations from Terminal 3. On 5 November 2008, the airline announced that it is to cease all its routes from Manchester to North America including to Chicago and Las Vegas, plus holiday flights to the Caribbean. Charter airlines Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways use Manchester as their primary operational base. The airport also serves as a secondary hub for bmibaby, Flybe,, Monarch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Several other British airlines have a strong presence.

Manchester Airport offers flights to over 190 destinations across the globe and 65 tour operators utilise the facility. Many of Manchester's overseas routes are served by charter flights to holiday destinations, some being seasonal. The proportion of scheduled passengers from Manchester has climbed from just 40% in the early 1990s to reach 63% during 2007.

The airport viewed from the south

Manchester also offers more destinations than some of the biggest airports in the US, including New Yorkmarker, Chicagomarker and Dallasmarker, although it is still slightly behind the three biggest 'hubs' in the global aviation network - Atlantamarker, Frankfurt am Mainmarker and Amsterdammarker - which each offer more than 250 destinations. However, Manchester serves more foreign destinations than Atlanta and Frankfurt (but not Amsterdam), although being much smaller in terms of total passengers handled.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 handles international traffic and is served by Star Alliance members, scheduled airlines and charter operators. It is also the base for, Monarch Airlines and Thomas Cook Airlines. The terminal has 24 stands, 14 of which have airbridges. Opened in 1962 by the Duke of Edinburgh with an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers, the terminal has undergone extensions and renovations since. Terminal 1's current capacity is around 11 million passengers a year.

In summer 2009, a £50 million redevelopment program for Terminal 1 was completed. As part of the overhaul, which took over 2 years, a new £14 million 14-lane security area opened during April 2008. The terminal's arrivals area has since been revamped with additional catering and retail facilities. Terminal 1's departure lounge has been expanded with a greater choice of shops and restaurants, following the virtual elimination of the landside area, and additional executive lounges have been added. The emphasis on retail development means that there is a lengthy walk from the security area to the airside waiting area, partly because the new layout forces passengers to pass through an extensive "duty free" shop on the way to the departure gates. It is also planned that a new boarding area and range of gates are to be added to the terminal in preparation for Airbus A380 flights which are expected to begin operating from Manchester in 2010/11.

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 (Emirates has since moved to Terminal 1)
Terminal 2 is mostly used by SkyTeam airline members and long haul and charter airlines flying to international destinations only. It opened in 1993, handling scheduled European and Intercontinental flights. Some European scheduled airlines such as Air France, Air Malta and KLM operate flights from the terminal, whilst charter airline Thomson Airways uses the terminal as a base.

Terminal 2 has 16 gates, of which 15 have airbridges. The design of the terminal makes it capable of extensive expansion; planning permission already exists 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. In 2007, an £11 million project commenced to redevelop Terminal 2 by improving security facilities and enhancing retail and catering services. This has resulted in the elimination of the landside shopping area to allow for an expanded airside departure lounge. The ground level arrivals area has also been redeveloped with improved catering and retail facilities. Terminal 2's new upper-level security area opened during July 2008; the entire terminal redevelopment is scheduled for completion by autumn 2009.

Terminal 2 is expected to accommodate the Airbus A380. In the expansion plan, a dedicated new gate area facility and lounge is to be added to the terminal and most of the new gates and stands will be designed to accommodate the A380, should commercial flights begin at the airport.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 was known in succession as "Terminal 1 - British Airways", "Terminal 1A" and "Terminal 3 - British Airways and Domestic". It was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in May 1989. In June 1998, British Airways opened their new £75 million terminal facility, a major extension to Terminal 3, and were the primary user of the terminal along with their partner airlines. However, more recently they have scaled down operations from Manchester Airport with the sale of their BA Connect subsidiary to Flybe; the ending of their franchise agreement with GB Airways and the retraction of their daily New York-JFK service in October 2008, after 54 years of operation. This leaves a BA operation serving only London Heathrowmarker and London Gatwickmarker from Manchester.

After taking over BA Connect's select routes, Flybe has gone on to add several more destinations. Today, Flybe, Bmibaby, BMI and EasyJet are the major operators at Terminal 3. Other carriers operating from the terminal include Air Southwest, American Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Adria Airways.

World Freight Terminal

Manchester Airport has a World Freight Terminal, served by 10 cargo-only freighter services and by civil airlines carrying cargo on passenger flights. There is of warehouse and office space on site, this includes a chiller unit for frozen products and a border inspection post. There are three aircraft maintenance hangers, with five transit sheds. These are operated by: British Airways Regional Cargo, Swissport Cargo , Menzies World Cargo, Plane Handling and Servisair. There are over 100 freight forwarding companies on site.

During 2006, 150,300 tonnes of cargo and mail were handled at Manchester, a small increase of 0.4% over the previous year (per CAA annual statistics table 2.2). Cargo growth sharply increased towards the third and fourth quarters of 2007, with October of that year setting a new record of tonnage passing through Manchester, with 16,326 tonnes being handled in the month. The twelve-month annual total to end December 2007 of 166,500 tonnes was 10.4% ahead of the previous year.

The 12 month rolling cargo total to March 2009 was 127,300 tonnes, a 25.0% reduction on the previous comparable 12 months, reflecting withdrawal from Manchester of MNG and Aeroflot and direct Fedex services to the USA, together with lower tonnages carried by other airlines. Fedex currently (June 2009) operate only feeder flights in a European network.

Manchester's two biggest cargo markets are the Far East and North America. The Far East is predominantly a source of import cargo for the airport and North America is a key destination for exports. The main cargo destination from Manchester is Hong Kongmarker, with Cathay Pacific making a total of 12 freighter round trips every week. On average each day the airport handles about six Boeing 747 freighter flights.

By 2015 the total figure for cargo handled was expected to be around 250,000 tonnes per year, approximately double today's actual level.

Cargo airlines

Maintenance bases

Manchester Airport is the home to the engineering bases of Thomas Cook Airlines and Monarch Airlines. As well as their own aircraft, the airport regularly sees foreign visitors and special movements visting for engineering work.Also, Air Livery have recently opened a new facility, with repaint facilities catering for aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747-400.


Manchester Airport has two parallel runways, both in length. The original main runway, then designated 06/24 and initially in length, dates back to 1941 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, then designated 06R/24L, opened in February 2001 at a cost of £172 million, and was the first full-length commercial runway to open in Britainmarker for over 20 years. Manchester is the only UK airport, other than Heathrowmarker, to have two commercial runways in operation. The site where the second runway was constructed was on the southern airfield boundary, which is near the village of Styalmarker in the Cheshiremarker countryside.

The project was deemed controversial because of the destruction of natural wildlife habitats 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 Knutsfordmarker and Stockportmarker when landing or taking off, in particular landing aircraft which do not follow 'Preferred Noise Routes'. For the latter reason, Runway 2 cannot legally be used between the hours of 10pm and 6am. However, the airport has permission to use Runway 2 between these hours if maintenance work is needed on the original runway.

During the quieter off-peak times which occur during the day, the airport reverts to single runway operations, where the original runway, 05L/23R, is used to accommodate both landing aircraft and those taking off. On some occasions when the airport is not busy, air traffic control can authorise light to medium aircraft to takeoff from the halfway point of the runway. Runway 05R/23L is non-active during this time (12pm-3pm and 9pm-6am) with fewer local residential areas being affected by the operation of only one runway.

Ground transport


Manchester Airport railway stationmarker, opened in May 1993, forms part of The Station and is located between Terminals 1 and 2. It is linked to the terminals using a Skylink moving walkway. Trains are operated either by Northern Rail or TransPennine Express ([35555]) and connect the airport to Manchester Piccadilly Stationmarker and other railway stations mainly throughout northern England, but some trains come from as far as Edinburghmarker. A third rail platform was completed in December 2008 to allow for an increase in rail capacity and also to meet increasing passenger numbers using the facility. There has also been a proposal to link the Manchester to Manchester Airport line to the Chestermarker to Stockportmarker line which would allow faster trains between the airport and parts of Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales. Since that proposal was put forward, little has materialised. However, the rail link could still be built and was mentioned as a possible future development in the long term by Network Rail in March 2009.

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. Buses serve many locations throughout Greater Manchester, including the 24-hour bus service Skyline (service 43) , which runs every 30 minutes to Manchester city centre via Wythenshawe, Northenden, Withington, Fallowfield and Rusholme. There is also Skyline (service 19) operating every hour to Altrincham via Wythenshawe and Sale. A network of National Express coach services serve Manchester Airport and operate to destinations further afield, including as far as Dublinmarker.


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 (Wythenshawemarker) and the east (Heald Greenmarker). 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 Altrinchammarker and Wilmslowmarker.

Taxi ranks are situated by arrivals at all three terminals. Passengers driving to the airport can use the drop-off areas outside the terminal buildings, but when picking up passengers the airport requires that they park in the short stay car parks provided for a fee. Long stay car parks are situated both on and off site.


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. This was a direct result of the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attackmarker and so all pick-ups must take place by using the short-stay car parks.

Official long-stay on-airport parking from Manchester Airport is located near the terminals and serviced 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; a long-stay car park less than a mile from the terminals. This is a cheaper alternative to the on-site car parks and is serviced 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 Metrolink light rail system, has had plans to extend to the airport for many years. When the failed idea of a congestion charge was brought in, part of the scheme was to extend the Metrolink to the airport. However, when this was rejected the future of the scheme was in doubt. In 2009 the line to the airport will finally be built. The airport line will be one spur of the line from St. Werburgh's Roadmarker, to East Didsburymarker and Manchester Airport. The line will open in 2012.

Future airport expansion

As part of the Government's 'The Future of Air Transport' White Paper', Manchester Airport published its master plan on its proposed expansion up 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. This is to make way for a new apron and taxiway towards runway 06L/24R, and an eastwards extension of Terminal 3, which is planned to provide an extra fifteen covered stands. A full length parallel taxiway may also 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 such that departures and arrivals do not contraflow on the same level, allowing for larger seating areas at the gates, express retail outlets and a dedicated lounge and gating area for future Airbus A380 flights. An early phase of which has seen the removal of the South Bay remote aircraft stands, constructed in 1962, and situated between taxiways Juliet and Kilo and as a consequence the more recent re-alignment of 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 airside 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.

All terminals have undergone a retail and airport security refurbishment programme, completed in summer 2009. The security control areas have new X-ray machines and passenger authenticity control systems, which will ensure a higher and faster passenger throughput, whilst improving the security at the airport. The new security control areas are now in operation in all terminals. Terminal 2's security zone is now located on a newly constructed upper level, whilst Terminal 1's security zone has been moved closer to the check-in zones. As a result, the retail concourse before security has been removed in both terminals. The new security zones allow an increase in passenger numbers in both terminals.

Terminal 3 acquired an extra security control area in November 2007, located near check-in zone C. This was dedicated to passengers travelling to CTA destinations. In January 2008, the usage was extended to all Terminal 3 passengers, with the exception of those destined for Frankfurtmarker, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airportmarker and Brusselsmarker. This new security control area is now used for all departures out of Terminal 3; the old security area has now closed and is being de-commissioned.

On 27 April 2008, it was announced that the Manchester Airports Group, which owns Manchester Airport together with the regional airports at East Midlandsmarker and Bournemouthmarker, plans to sell its majority stake of 87% in the smaller Humberside Airportmarker, which it has run since 1999. The money raised from the sale will go into developments and expansion at its other airports, a large proportion of which will most probably be used to fund the above expansion of Manchester.

On 17 September 2008, it was announced that BAA were to sell London Gatwick Airportmarker ahead of the Competition Commission possibly forcing the sale following their main report due in 2009. The airport is estimated to be worth around £1.8billion. Manchester Airports Group are believed to be one of the interested parties. Should such a bid be tabled and accepted, it would create a business which would rival the current BAA domination of the United Kingdommarker's airport infrastructure.


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 and Cedar's Wood. Swampy, a well known activist, was among many protesters.

Manchester Airport's second runway was built on of greenbelt land. Four Grade II listed buildings were taken down and were re-constructed nearby, and over £20m was spent on environmental restoration and protection. Nonetheless, there is criticism that natural habitats were destroyed.

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 and home owners have not been compensated by the airport.

In 2007 Manchester Airport wanted to build on further green belt land in Styal in order 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. 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, despite claims that the number of parking spaces was insufficient for the number of passengers.

Incidents and accidents

  • On 27 March 1951 a Douglas C-47A-75-DL Dakota 3 cargo aircraft operated by Air Transport Charter and en route to Nutts Cornermarker Airport, Antrim, Northern Irelandmarker, crashed shortly after take-off following the aircrafts 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 formation in the carburetor intakes attributable to the captain's failure to make use of the heat controls. An extended undercarriage and the presence of snow on the wings may have also been contributory factors.

  • On 14 March 1957, British European Airways Flight "Bealine 411" operated by Vickers Viscount 701 G-ALWE inbound from Amsterdam crashed into houses in Shadow Moss Road, Woodhouse Park on final approach to Runway 24 at Manchester Airport due to a flap failure caused by fatigue of a wing bolt. All 20 occupants on board died and two on the ground.

  • 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 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.[35556]

  • 16 July 2003 – Excel Airways Boeing 737-800 (G-XLAG) with 190 passengers and seven crew took off from Manchester Airport while vehicles were working near the end of the runway. Despite the crew being told the runway was operating at reduced length, they took off from a runway intersection with reduced length using a reduced thrust setting calculated for the assumed normal runway length. The aircraft lifted off over the vehicles, missing them by 56 ft (17 m), according to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch report. Six safety recommendations were made.

Public attractions

Manchester Airport has created public viewing areas since the airport opened to the public in 1938. The 1960/1970s pier-top 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 relocated to the western side of the airfield in May 1997 to allow construction of the second runway. The Aviation Viewing Park is regarded as providing the best official viewing facilities for aircraft spotting at any major UK airport. Visitors can view aircraft taking off and landing from both runways, as well as aircraft taxiing to and from the runways. The attraction now draws around 250,000 visitors a year and is one of the North-West of England's top 10 attractions. The viewing 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 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.

Level 13 of the short-stay car park at Terminal 1 features 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 Airport Hotel is a public house operated by Robinson%27s_Brewery, and is situated on Ringway Road approximately from the airport. Its large beer garden overlooks the eastern end of Taxiway J and the eastern threshold of runway 23R which are only away and provides good views of east-west landing approaches and some take-off rolls.


  • First and Foremost. Scholefield, R.A. Manchester Airport Authority, 1978.
  • Manchester Airport. Scholefield, R.A. Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 1998. ISBN 0-7509-1954-X.


  1. Airports, Ports and Waterways
  2. Manchester Airport Awards
  3. River Mersey
  4. Manchester Airport Strategy Documents - Master Plan to 2030
  5. Number of Passengers including both domestic and international.
  6. Number of Movements represents total air transport takeoffs and landings during that year.
  7. UK Airport Statistics
  8. Manchester Airport : Fact Sheet: Airport Summary
  9. Flight path to destruction
  10. Knutsford Guardian - Residents wait for airport to pay out
  11. Manchester Airport : Community Operations
  12. Operating procedure during single runway operation
  13. Dead link
  15. GMPTE map
  16. Humberside Airport to be sold
  17. "Gatwick Airport put up for sale", BBC News, 17 September 2008
  18. War in the Woods: A History of Runway 2 BBC 2007-04-24
  21. Scholefield, "Manchester Airport", 1998, p.133
  22. Airport newts halt Concorde home

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