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Manchester Airport: gateway to the world

This year has seen Manchester Airport create headlines for breaking its own ‘busiest twelve months to date’ running record.

Manchester Airport: gateway to the world

As of September 2015, the airport had an incredible rolling total of 22.87 million passengers, up 5.44% on the previous year. Manchester Airport holds the title of being the third busiest airport in the UK behind London Gatwick and Heathrow.

But this brilliant 2015 doesn’t just ensure future success for Manchester Airport, it also impacts the local region- Greater Manchester.

That’s because Manchester Airport is owned by MAG (Manchester Airports Group), the largest UK-owned airport operator which owns four airports across the UK- London Stansted, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Manchester Airport. And two of MAG’s largest investors are:

  • Manchester City Council, who own 35.5%
  • The other Greater Manchester Councils, who own 29%

Therefore, the success of Manchester Airport is directly related to Greater Manchester. And with the airport making headlines for all the right reasons, the region is also reaping the benefits, with returns of approximately £1.8 billion per year.

A figure which could yet go up as, going forward, the airport has ambitions to attract an extra 10 million new passengers annually. According to MAG, this could be achieved within the next decade.

Airport City

Another reason for MAG’s unequalled success is because of its other venture: the ever-growing Airport City, a 5 million square foot business park based around Manchester Airport - with a £800million price tag.

Airport City markets itself as one of the largest, and most exciting, business park developments in the UK since the 2012 Olympic Park. It offers companies the chance to do business in the UK, with all of the country’s competitive rates and opportunities, as well as being perfectly positioned for international markets.

Since its gates opened in 2013 there are already almost 30,000 people working across the entire site. Proving that it has not only been a successful business venture by MAG, it’s also been a place for local companies to grow and thrive.

In addition, alongside Airport City’s current success, the recent visit by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, saw the announcement of 2 new business parks for the development- Wuhan Square and Shenzhen Gardens, together worth £130m.

This aptly named ‘Chinese Cluster’, (specifically designed for Chinese businesses) proves that Airport City is also a viable home to businesses and investments from around the world.

New Routes

Links to the global powerhouse that is China were also strengthened by another of President Xi Jinping’s announcements- the introduction of a direct Manchester to Beijing flight beginning in June 2016.

This one service alone is expected to be worth £250m to the UK (two thirds of which will go to the North West), as it will be the country’s only direct service to China departing outside of London.

In fact, the past 12 months have seen Manchester Airport announce a number of new, direct flights including: Krakow, Naples, Boston and Los Angeles. It now offers approximately 225 destinations which is more than any other airport in the UK, truly heightening Manchester’s appeal on a global scale.

For the local, regional market, the ability to fly to far flung destinations, without the inconvenience of travelling to London, has only served to boost passenger numbers even more.

Getting to the Airport

Manchester Airport is easy to get to from afar, as well as having multiple public transport links to the city centre:

  • Trains take as little as 15 minutes to get to Manchester Piccadilly, the city’s main station, which has routes to all major UK stations, including London in only 2 hours, 8 minutes.
  • Trams connect the Airport to the Greater Manchester boroughs on Europe’s largest light rail system. Despite only being operational for 12 months now, the airport line has been a huge success, with over 1.88 million journeys made so far.

Looking ahead, the airport is set to be even better connected by the arrival of HS2 Phase 2. The high speed trains will call at a newly created station, Manchester Interchange, only a couple of kilometres from the airport.

Although controversial, HS2 promises to slash the journey times between Manchester, Birmingham and London to allow traversing the country more efficiently than ever before. A train from Manchester Interchange to London Euston would only take 59 minutes.

Along with plans for the next 30 years, including 60 airport improvements set to cost £1 billion, closing one terminal and doubling the size of another, Manchester Airport is certainly preparing itself for a prosperous future.

Ultimately, 2015 has been Manchester Airport’s most successful year so far, but there is no reason to think 2016 won’t be even better. MAG is doing incredibly well, not only with its four airports, but also with other investments such as Airport City. And with Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs owning 64.5% of the shares, it’s not just the airport, but the entire region, which is feeling the benefit of today’s ever-connected world.

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