Manchester Airport’s 80th birthday celebrations are set for take off as part of a wide-ranging programme of activity with passengers, communities and colleagues past and present.
The airport’s “oak” anniversary celebrations will emphasise its regional roots and global branches, telling the story of its evolution from a single wooden hut in 1938 to the UK’s third largest airport today.
Activities will take place either side of Manchester Airport’s official birthday, on June 25, and will also look forward to how the gateway will be transformed through the £1bn investment programme currently underway.
A key pillar of the 80th celebrations will be the airport’s central role in this year’s Manchester Day parade on June 17th. Manchester Day is an annual event that celebrates everything great about the city – the perfect way to celebrate the birthday in style, with this year’s theme being “The Word on the Street”.
The airport is the official partner for this year’s event, with a special interactive float being designed for the occasion. It will tell the story of the gateway’s development through the decades, as well as highlighting its current network of more than 220 different destinations around the globe – more than any other UK airport and 15th in the world by this measure.
Scores of airport colleagues will take part in the parade, dishing out a series of giveaways to members of the public joining in with the festivities.
Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport said:
“Marking 80 years is a milestone everyone at the airport is incredibly proud of. As we look back, it is clear to see Manchester is a totally different airport to when it first opened in 1938, but we have never lost sight of our local roots and the important role we play in the lives of those living and working around us.
“As passenger numbers have grown, along with the number of places we fly to, so have the benefits we deliver to the region, in terms of the number of jobs created, businesses supported through our investment or the trade and tourism links we provide.
“I look forward to the coming years and seeing the airport develop through our £1bn transformation programme that will see Manchester continue to be a world-class airport for all of the North.”
Bee in the City
During its birthday week, Manchester Airport will join forces with the Bee in the City campaign, taking the wraps off a giant bee in its Ground Transport Interchange. The bee will have a theme of “80 days around the world,” again pointing to the airport’s extensive route network. It will be one of the many bees that eventually go on auction to raise funds for the I Love Manchester fund.
The airport is also set to open up the archives and curate a special exhibition of artefacts from across the decades. These include old airline memorabilia, uniforms and antique luggage scales, some not being seen for many years. These will go on display at the airport’s Runway Visitor Park for its thousands of visitors to see, free of charge.
Also at the Runway Visitor Park the annual Aviation & Transport Festival will be celebrating all things 80 with classic cars & vehicles historic military transport and aviation exhibits on show on 30th June and 1st July.
Manchester Airport will also be partnering with airline KLM, who operated the first commercial flight on 27th June 1938 to Amsterdam via Doncaster. The Dutch national carrier is planning a range of activities to celebrate this milestone with its passengers.
A range of activities for communities surrounding the airport will also be delivered as part of the celebrations.
The Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said:
“Manchester Airport is integral to the city’s prosperity and future growth, helping us to attract investment from around the globe and create jobs, while connecting international visitors with everything we have to offer. It’s also a really important local employer, so it’s fitting that staff from the Airport will be joining us for the Manchester Day parade, as part of the 80th anniversary celebrations for this vital asset to Manchester.”
Manchester Airport is currently the UK’s third largest, and on Saturday June 25th 1938, it was officially opened by an air display from the Royal Air Force by the command of Sir Kingsley Wood, his Majesty’s Secretary of State for Air. Operations began two days later and in the first 12 months, the airport handled 7,600 passengers, which is the equivalent of a summer morning’s work today.
Manchester was the first city in Great Britain to establish a municipal aerodrome when an Air Ministry licence was granted to the Corporation on April 22nd 1929. In January 1934, an airline’s senior pilot claimed that the existing Barton site for Manchester was unsuitable and by July 1934 the City Council had chosen Ringway, as Manchester Airport used to be known, as a new home.
The original 1938 route network included the exotic hotspots of Western Super-Mare, Croydon and Doncaster whereas Manchester now serves more than 220 international destinations worldwide including Beijing, Houston, Mumbai, San Francisco, Singapore and Boston.
Images: archive image from the airport in 1938 and a newly designed logo to celebrate the 80th.