Manchester courts the corporate market

6th December 2011

Manchester Airport is hoping to become part of the airport elite by growing its share of the corporate travel and business tourism market. Manchester has predominantly been recognised as a leisure airport but its growing range of airline services has seen a deliberate shift towards passengers looking to access business sectors from their local airport.

Approximately a third of the UK population resides within two hours drive of Manchester and the airport has been growing its route network over recent years, with large scale additions such as the Emirates A380 alongside a programme of upgrading the lounge offer with additions from the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Holidays and the airport’s own Escape brand. This has all resulted in a growing interest from the corporate market in Manchester’s offer.

Manchester’s split of leisure and business traffic currently sees about 18% travelling for business travel, which amounts to around 3 million passenger journeys. According to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, the top 12 UK airports currently carry an estimated 37 million business travellers out of 165 million passengers and the business tourism market is continuing to grow.

Paul Simpson, Managing Director of Visit Manchester, said: “Business tourism is incredibly important to the city and Manchester Airport plays an integral role in this sector. Each year it contributes over 570m a year to the local economy and helps to raise Manchester’s profile on the world stage. We know from our Conference Value & Volume Study that on average the city welcomes around 4.2m delegates each year – attending one of almost 57,000 business events.”

International business visitors are believed to contribute around 3.5 billion to the British economy and the overall size of the market is estimated to be worth well over 20 billion in terms of its wider economic impact. To evaluate that figure even further, the value of business transacted at trade events is estimated to generate 100 billion a year and the airport has acknowledged that the sector is a valuable asset for the UK; even more so in the current economic climate.

Manchester recently housed a new Corporate Travel event in the Concorde Conference Centre at Manchester Airport. The event was open exclusively for buyers of business travel within corporate organisations, travel managers, procurement officers, finance directors and also personal assistant's and travel bookers within companies.

Caroline Plant, Marketing Director for Manchester Airport, said: “This was the first event of its kind at this airport and one we are very keen to repeat so we can cement the relationships between corporate buyers and our airlines. We are very aware of the strength of the airline offering here at Manchester and we are keen for more of the country to feel the benefits of travelling from our airport.

“We are already well served to the Middle and Far East by the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore, Finnair, Pakistan, Turkish and Biman. We also remain strong on our North American routes with US Airways, Delta, Continental, American and Virgin Atlantic. While our European network continues to flourish with the likes of Flybe, easyJet, Air Nostrum, Icelandair, Lufthansa, Swiss,, Ryanair, Norwegian, SAS, Air France and KLM using our airport. While Thomas Cook remains an important part of the network at Manchester and we retain strong operations from the likes of Monarch and Thomson.”

Over 200 attendees were invited to meet the airlines currently flying from Manchester and over 19 of the major business airlines attended with airlines like American Airlines bringing flat beds for potential customers to trial.

Speakers included Manchester Airport’s Marketing Director Caroline Plant, Paul Simpson, Chief Executive of Visit Manchester and Simone Buckley, the chair of the Institute of Travel and Meetings (ITM). The event’s sponsors included the North West Regional Development Agency, the inward investment agency – MIDAS and the tourist association - Marketing Manchester.


For more information, contact the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 or via email at

Published on: 07/12/2011 14:14:14