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  

1928-2008: 70 years of development 

Barton, near Eccles, is chosen as the site of Manchester's new aerodrome. 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. 

Barton Aerodrome is completed, including a control tower and large hangar (both of which still stand today). 

Discussions open with KLM on a Holland to North of England service. Barton Aerodrome is considered unsuitable for larger aircraft and the necessary improvements would be prohibitively expensive, so land at Ringway, South of Manchester, is earmarked for a new airport. 

Building work at Ringway commences. 

Ringway Airport is officially opened on 25th June, and operations begin two days later. In its first 14 months, the airport handles 7,600 passengers… the equivalent of a summer morning's work today! 

On 1st September, the last scheduled aeroplane flies before the outbreak of the Second World War.

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. 

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh opens the new 2.7 million terminal. It is truly innovative; the first in Europe to incorporate a ‘pier’ system, in which passengers remain under cover until ready to board the aircraft. 

The runway is extended to 2,745 metres, allowing aircraft to take off with a full payload and fly non-stop to Canada.

A new inter-continental pier, capable of handling Boeing 747s, opens for business. It features numerous innovations including travellators, waiting lounges and air conditioning. For the first time, ‘air bridges’ connect passengers direct to the aircraft. 

15 scheduled airlines operate flights to 37 destinations in the UK, Europe and North America. Over one hundred 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. 

The runway is extended by 244 metres to 3,048 metres, in order to attract long-haul operators offering worldwide destinations. 

The World Freight Terminal opens. 

Passenger numbers grow still further – a figure of one million passengers a month is reached for the first time. 

Manchester Airport celebrates its Golden Jubilee. 

HRH the Princess of Wales opens the new Domestic Terminal, which includes dedicated check-in and car parking facilities. 

The airport launches its 'Towards a Better Environment' programme, aimed at minimising the airport’s impact on the local community.

Manchester publishes its new 'Development Strategy for the year 2005', including plans for a 21st Century airport, designed to handle 30 million passengers a year by 2005, complete with proposals for a second runway. 

The Aviation Viewing Park is opened.
Ringway Handling Services is formed, to provide a complete baggage and freight-handling service. 

Terminal 2 is opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, doubling Manchester Airport's terminal capacity 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 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 launches its environmental plan, encouraging everyone who works at the airport to be more to be 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. 

Work starts on the 60 million Integrated Public Transport Interchange. The Government also gives the go-ahead for a 289 million Metrolink extension to the Airport. 

Manchester Airport completes the purchase of East Midlands and Bournemouth Airport to become the second largest airport operator in the UK.
The second runway opens in February. 

As a major host-city sponsor, Manchester Airport welcomes athletes from around the world to the Commonwealth Games. 

5.5 million retail upgrade of Terminal 1 is completed and extensive development of Terminal 2 gets under way.

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. 

The airport’s newly-built public transport interchange, offering connections to many major UK cities, is officially opened by the Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, MP. The 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.

Building work begins on a major refurbishment of Terminal One.

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

On May 14th, the airports sees one of its busiest weeks as Zenit St Petersburg and Glasgow Rangers fans travel to the city for the UEFA Cup Final. 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.

In February 2009, building work begins on the site of a brand new 19m leading educational academy in Wythenshawe. 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 February, following the Detroit bomb plot and an announcement from the UK government body scanners become mandatory in Terminal 1 and 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.

In March, Manchester Airport was confirmed as the location within Greater Manchester of one of the Government’s 21 UK “Enterprise Zones”, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the March 2011 Budget. 

In January, Manchester Airport was honoured at the annual Travel Weekly Globe Awards where it was named Best UK 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.

On 28th February, MAG announced the completion of its acquisition of London Stansted Airport. As part of the transaction, IFM Investors took a 35.5% equity interest in the enlarged group.
On 25th June, Manchester celebrated its 75th anniversary. 75 years on, the airport is now the third largest in the UK and passed the 20m passenger mark again during the Summer. During