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August 8, 2010

Manchester Airport; The History And Development Of The Site

Other than the airports servicing the capital Manchester is the UK’s largest. It flies to a variety of destinations all around the world and hosts a large number of auxiliary services such as shops, restaurants and car hire desks. A recent survey conducted by a popular travel magazine found that it was the UK’s favourite major airport. Like Heathrow it has two runways as well as a dedicated railway station that gives access to destinations all around the country. Annually the airport currently handles around twenty million passengers. As it services the UK’s second city, it is unsurprising that it is such an important link in the UK’s transportation network.

The site was originally constructed during the nineteen thirties as part of a growth in air travel more generally. At first it was named the Ringway Airfield due to its location in the parish of Ringway. The first flight left Ringway to Amsterdam in the year 1938. However as the war was only a short time away, civilian activities were soon stopped for military purposes. As a military airfield the site conducted a number of operational sorties but also existed as a training and testing facility. Part of this training was the instruction of the new parachute regiments that formed such an important part of the modern war machine. In terms of testing, the British manufacturer Avro often used the Manchester site.

Like most of the airports in the UK, the end of the war saw a return of civilian flyers. The airport was an immediate success handling almost half a million passengers annually during the fifties. Naturally, this success brought many companies who were attempting to make a profit from travellers; these were predominantly companies in the retail and car hire industries. From the fifties onwards the site saw expansion to accommodate large jet planes that were rapidly becoming the aircraft of choice for tourist airlines. As well as runway extensions to cope with the longer take offs and landings of jets, a terminal was built to cope with increased passenger numbers. It was during this period that the name was changed to Manchester International Airport.

As a result of this new title, the chiefs in charge of the site’s development set up a plan to court more transatlantic and other long haul flights. However, this meant that another runway extension would be required. Long haul flights were secured and during the nineties the passenger numbers reflected a large increase. As a result of larger passenger numbers the site needed another terminal. This was built during the early nineties and obviously filled with the usual accompanying services such as shops, cafes and car hire desks. Additionally, during this decade the site was given its own train station linked to the national rail network.

The creation of the gargantuan Airbus A380 has once again meant that expansion was needed to accommodate this huge jet. As past of the airport’s thirty year expansion plan, designers have laid down further plans to expand the terminal size as well as the apron space. This is vital should the site continue to grow and cope with the needs of the next generation of jet aircraft. Naturally this expansion will include a further increasing of the auxiliary services such as shops, restaurants and car hire provisions as these are a valuable profit making tool for the airport.

As the largest airport in the UK outside of the London area Manchester is a vitally important part of the air travel network. While the London sites battle for primacy, Manchester only has to worry about Birmingham overtaking it; as Birmingham is considerably smaller, Manchester can be sure that its position is somewhat assured for the future.

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