Skip to main content

Our History

A Proud Heritage – A Dynamic Future

Manchester Airport is a truly global hub, serving millions of passengers every
year and connecting the North of England with the world.

See images of Manchester Airport through history


At the same time, Manchester City Council is keen to establish a municipal airport, so a temporary airfield is built in Wythenshawe.

Wythenshawe Airport opens for business.

Aerodrome includes a control tower and large hangar (both of which still stand today). 

Barton Aerodrome is considered unsuitable for larger aircraft and the necessary improvements would be prohibitively expensive. As a result, land at Ringway, South of Manchester, is ear-marked for a new airport. 

Building work at Ringway commences.

Operations begin at the airport two days later. In its first 14 months, the airport handles 7,600 passengers…the equivalent of a summer morning's work today! 

Ringway Airport goes on to become a hub of wartime engineering activity, as an aircraft manufacturing centre for Fairey Aviation and Avro.

Runway and airport facilities are enhanced with three new runways and ten new hangars.

The airport also acts as a training centre for over 60,000 parachutists. 

Peacetime passenger services begin.

Passenger numbers triple to more than 34,000 a year.

Extended terminal facilities open in the converted wartime building.

The main runway is extended from 1,280 metres to 1,798 metres. 

The airport commences 24-hour operations, and now handles 163,000 passengers every year. 

Sabena (Belgian Airlines) introduces the first scheduled service to New York.

The airport records its millionth passenger since the Second World War. 

The first inclusive tour flight begins to Ostend. 

The terminal is truly innovative; the first in Europe to incorporate a ‘pier’ system, in which passengers remain under cover until ready to board the aircraft. 

This allows aircraft to take off with a full payload and fly non-stop to Canada.

The new intercontinental pier features numerous innovations, including travellators, waiting lounges and air conditioning. For the first time, ‘air bridges’ connect passengers direct to the aircraft.

Over 100 companies operate at the airport, employing more than 5,000 people.

For the first time, passengers numbers top more than half a million in a single month.

This is in order to attract long-haul operators offering worldwide destinations. 

The World Freight Terminal opens.

A figure of 1 million passengers a month is reached for the first time. 

Manchester Airport celebrates its Golden Jubilee.

The new domestic terminal includes dedicated check-in and car parking facilities. 

The 'Towards a Better Environment' is aimed at minimising the airport’s impact on the local community.

Including plans for a 21st Century airport, designed to handle 30 million passengers a year by 2005, complete with proposals for a second runway. 

Ringway Handling Services is formed, to provide a complete baggage and freight-handling service. 

With the opening of Terminal 2, Manchester Airport's terminal capacity doubled to around 20 million passengers a year.

A new railway station is opened in May, providing direct links to many towns and cities in the North of England.

The airport is formally recognised as the largest sponsor of the Arts in the North West, and ranks in the top ten national arts sponsors. 

Annual passenger numbers reach 15 million.

The 'airport Environment Plan' encourages everyone who works at the airport to be more environmentally aware.

Approval is granted for the building of the second runway and work begins.

Manchester Airport acquires a majority shareholding in Humberside International Airport. 

With the purchase of East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports, MAG becomes the second largest airport operator in the UK.

The second runway at Manchester Airport opens in February 2001.

The Government also gives the go-ahead for a £289 million Metrolink extension to the Airport. 

Manchester Airport welcomes athletes from around the world to the Commonwealth Games. 

Manchester Airport’s bid to house one of the retired Concorde fleet is successful. It is announced that the aircraft, G-BOAC, will go on display in the Aviation Viewing Park from Spring/Summer 2004. 

With the opening of the new public transport interchange, passengers are offered connections to many major UK cities. This is officially opened by the Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, MP.

Manchester Airport marks its 20 millionth passenger in the space of a year.

Manchester Airport handles 22 million passengers in a year, for the first time.

Lufthansa celebrates 50 years of flights from Manchester Airport.

Meanwhile, runway markings are changed to '05-23' from '06-24' to account for changes to the earth’s magnetic field.

Just a week later 25,000 Manchester United fans fly out to Moscow to see their team take on Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Manchester Airport marks its 70th anniversary on June 25th 2008.

In November, the airport’s iconic 'Concorde' prepares to move from its outside base, for the first time in five years, to its new £1million home – The 'Concorde Conference Centre'.

The Manchester Enterprise Academy aims to be at the forefront of a new way of learning, with the airport as its lead sponsor.

£80m of terminal improvements are opened across the three terminals in July 2009. Shortly afterwards on the 22nd October, Emirates, officially opens a new luxurious lounge for its premium passengers and frequent flyers.

In November, the airport begins to trial Imaging Technology, also known as body scanning in Terminal 2.

In March, Emirates announces that it will bring the A380 to Manchester, the first regional airport to host the aircraft. Etihad also announces an increase in capacity and the construction of a new lounge for Manchester, only its third outside of Abu Dhabi.

An ash cloud resulting from the eruption of a volcano in Iceland shuts UK airspace on several occasions in April and May, grounding most aircraft in the country and shutting the airport.

The awards are voted for by travel agents across the UK. This was the fourth time that Manchester had picked up the best UK Airport award, which remains one of the few award ceremonies where the winners are voted solely by the industry.

As part of the transaction, IFM Investors took a 35.5% equity interest in the enlarged group.

On 25th June, Manchester Airport celebrated its 75th anniversary. 75 years on, the airport is now the third largest in the UK and passed the 20 million passenger mark again during the Summer.