The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, visited Manchester Airport today to see work begin on the 10 year Manchester Airport £1bn Transformation Programme that will deliver a major boost to the UK’s growth prospects and international competitiveness.

This project, the largest private investment in the region, will reinforce Manchester Airport’s standing as the UK’s global hub in the North of England, enabling better and more international connections and supporting economic growth across the North.

The visit comes on the day that the Government begins consulting on its Aviation Strategy which will seek to set out a vision for UK aviation over the next three decades and include proposals for how best use can be made of existing runway capacity at airports like Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands.

The Manchester Airport £1bn Transformation Programme (MAN-TP) will provide millions of passengers and airlines with facilities that combine state of the art services with excellent customer service. With the new development complete, the airport will be able to grow alongside a thriving northern economy to handle 45 million passengers a year, an increase of almost 20 million compared to today.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of MAG, said:

“Today marks a significant moment in the history of Manchester Airport and demonstrates the confidence that we have in the long term future of both the North and the UK economy.

“This is the largest private investment that has been made in the region for some time and the increased connectivity that it will deliver will enable it to become one of the most accessible and productive regions in Europe.

“It has never been more important that people and businesses across the whole country have easy access to global markets and our investment in transforming the airport will do this for the 25 million people who live within two hours of Manchester Airport.

“Equally, better global connectivity into the region will plug international investors directly into the potential that is available across the Northern Powerhouse – stretching from Liverpool to Leeds and Scotland to Stoke.

“I am delighted that the Secretary of State has chosen to launch the Government’s Aviation Strategy at Manchester Airport today and welcome his commitment to maximising the growth opportunities of Manchester and Stansted, which will be vital to the UK’s future connectivity and prosperity.”

Manchester Airport £1bn regeneration
Manchester Airport £1bn regeneration programme

Manchester Airport is already amongst the world’s top 15 best connected airports by destinations served and this investment will facilitate ever greater levels of trade and investment into the UK that will drive a rebalancing of economic growth across the country.

In recent years, the airport has become the only airport outside London to offer many direct routes to long haul destinations like Beijing, San Francisco, Houston and Muscat.

MAN-TP will enable the airport to further improvement the North’s international connectivity and the airport is currently targeting expanding its route network into North America, the Gulf, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), owner of Manchester Airport, estimates that MAN-TP will create more than 1500 jobs in the construction phase alone, nearly 200 of which will be apprentices. Manchester Airport already plays a key role in the Northern Powerhouse, generating £5 billion every year in economic activity in the local and regional economy, employing 20,000 people on site and supporting a further 25,000 jobs indirectly.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“Aviation is central to our future prosperity as we leave the European Union. As a global, trading nation we want to build on the great industry we have today and create opportunities for people up and down the country.

“Our new aviation strategy will look beyond the new runway at Heathrow and sets out a comprehensive long-term plan for UK aviation. It will support jobs and economic growth across the whole of the UK.

“I welcome the Manchester Airport £1 billion transformation programme to double the size of Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2 which will create 1,500 jobs.

“This is great news for the local economy and for passengers who will be able to fly to more destinations, more often.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

“This is a red letter day for Manchester Airport – a £1 billion investment that will help ensure this great airport continues to go from strength to strength.

“It’s vital that business and the Government now explore how all the UK’s airports can be supported to grow and flourish over the next decade and beyond.

“Developing a successful aviation strategy for all parts of the country has never been more important, connecting people and businesses to more regions and cities across the UK and around the world – the practical face of global Britain.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Aviation makes a huge contribution to business growth in every region and nation of the UK, so it is fantastic to see one of our leading airport operators make such a transformative investment at a time of change and uncertainty.

“It is crucial that the government’s new Aviation Strategy supports the continued growth and development of our airports, and frees them to make the best use of their capacity to link British businesses to markets all across the world.

“Stronger airports help our cities and counties attract more investment and visitors, and connect our firms to trading opportunities overseas – so we must enable them to grow and change to meet the demands of the future. This includes getting clarity as soon as possible on post-Brexit arrangements for the aviation sector, to keep our businesses and their products flying.”

Supportive quotes from across the region:

North East

Nigel Morris, operations director at Tyneside sports travel firm Nirvana Europe, said: “We are a business born and bred in the North East but with a significant international focus and so the value of direct connectivity to Manchester Airport cannot be understated. We often have clients flying in from all over the world to compete in events across the UK, so anything that makes it quicker and easier for our team to access Manchester Airport is hugely positive. We also have lots of customers who want to travel to far flung destinations served by the airport, so knowing there is a non-stop rail service is a huge benefit.”


Oliver Nicoll, COO at Hull-based VISR-VR, said: “The launch of a direct flight service from Manchester to San Francisco has provided the catalyst for tech businesses across the North to come together and collectively present the Northern Powerhouse to Silicon Valley. The lesson I have learned is that Silicon Valley is what we aspire to be like but we will do it in our own way. Having a direct link into the Valley now will undoubtedly ensure the knowledge, culture and cash in Silicon Valley flows into the North – and vice versa- and that is really exciting.”


Doug Pearce, Head of International Student Recruitment at the University of Leeds, said: “Direct routes benefit universities like Leeds, sending a strong message to students from all over the globe – they are joining a vibrant, international university that is innovative and well connected to the rest of the world.”


John Lester, CIDSI UK MD, said: “CISDI UK, a subsidiary of Chinas global engineering giant CISDI, opened its offices in Sheffield because of its expertise in high-tech engineering and its excellent road and rail infrastructure. But we make many trips to China every month and inevitably that has meant wasted hours spent driving to other airports or waiting around for connecting flights. We are delighted to learn we are also now within easy reach of direct flights to Beijing. Sheffield City Region companies doing business with China will benefit massively from this in terms of time. It is also sure to further improve established business links and drive growth.”


Carl Emery, owner of Cheshire-based tailor Harris & Howard, said: “We recently had an issue that needed to be resolved face-to-face with a supplier in Beijing. Because of the existence of a direct flight, I was able to jump on a plane, sort it out, have dinner, then come back. Without the service, the inability to solve the problem in person is something that would have held back our growth and could have become a bigger issue over time.”

Greater Manchester

Helen and Lisa TSE MBE, of Sweet Mandarin Restaurant and Sauce company, said:  “Having direct flights from Manchester to Hong Kong has been invaluable. We have noticed an upturn of Hong Kong visitors to Manchester who have made a beeline to our restaurant to try the Mabel’s Claypot Chicken which was requested by the Premier of China during his state visit. Also, we supply our sauces to Hong Kong, so going to visit our buyers via this direct flight has saved us time, money, energy and helped us forge stronger relationships with the supermarkets out there.”

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