As the Government’s consultation on the future of UK aviation comes to a close in a matter of days, the UK’s third biggest airport today called for a firm commitment to the North, as it edged closer to an historic high of 30m passengers.
Last month saw the airport reach 28.9m annual passengers, with the Northern hub set to hit 30m by the end of the financial year. May saw it welcome 2.6m passengers through its three terminals.
On June 20, the Government’s Aviation 2050 Green Paper consultation closes and bosses of Manchester Airport have called on Ministers to recognise the critical role it will play in driving Northern growth and rebalancing the UK if enabled to reach its full potential.
Manchester Airport is part-way through the largest investment in its 80 year history – the £1bn transformation of its terminal and airfield infrastructure – which will help it unlock the spare capacity on its existing two runways.
Its bosses say Government has the opportunity, through its Aviation Strategy process, to set out a clear plan for Manchester to develop into the UK’s second hub airport, connected to all parts of the North via the proposed high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail network, and to all parts of the world by attracting further long haul routes to key global markets.
Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said:
“As we edge closer to the 30m passenger mark, our role as the UK’s global gateway in the North becomes even clearer.
“Government has rightly recognised Manchester as a ‘national’ airport in its Aviation 2050 Green Paper and it is vital that is used as a platform to develop a proper understanding of our potential to drive economic growth and prosperity across the North.
“The are some key interventions only Government can make, such as large-scale investment in transformative projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and the reform of aviation taxes to help stimulate new long haul connections from gateways like Manchester.
“With the right support, coupled with our own £1bn investment, Manchester Airport can be an even greater engine of growth for the North by giving people and businesses access to the world’s most important markets.”
As well as welcoming more than 2.6m passengers last month, May also saw two key routes launch. El Al, the national carrier of Israel, joined easyJet with a service to Tel Aviv and Virgin Atlantic started flights to Los Angeles, a route Thomas Cook Airlines also operates.
The most popular destinations last month were Amsterdam, Palma, Dublin, Tenerife and Alicante. Traffic to the Middle East saw strong growth, with Doha seeing a 45% increase and Muscat 15%. Singapore also saw strong demand in May with growth of 19%.
As the summer continues so does work on the airport’s £1bn transformation. By summer 2020 the extension on Terminal Two will open, offering passengers a host of new retail, food and drink outlets. The existing Terminal Two will then have a full refurbishment and re-open in 2022 as part of the extension.