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Manchester Airport; Development, Buyouts And Iris Scanning

Aug 28, 2008
Manchester is currently the biggest airport outside of the London region and in terms of Europe is regarded to be the twelfth busiest. With around ninety five airlines regularly using the airport ranging from passenger to cargo, the site can be seen as the gateway to over one hundred and eighty destinations worldwide. Passenger numbers hover around the twenty million mark, something that with further expansion, the airport chiefs will hope to increase. Unlike many of the major airports in the UK Manchester is owned by the MAG (Manchester Airport Group) and not BAA. With three terminals filled with car hire desks, shops and restaurants the site generates and income of around six hundred million pounds a year for the local region; in addition employing over thirty thousand people from the local area.

Beginning its life as the Ringway Aerodrome, named after a local parish, it rapidly developed into the airport of choice in the north of England. Like most airfields in the UK it was requisitioned during the war years for military purposes, the site being instrumental in the training of the newly formed parachute regiments. The site was also an important development and testing site for British manufacturer Avro, testing many varieties of bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. With two runways it has the provisions to cope with transatlantic flights and as such, passengers are given the option to fly to destinations in the US, such as New York, Chicago and Dallas.

With the conjecture surrounding the Competition Commission's criticism of BAA, and accusations of monopolistic tendencies it is likely that the MAG will benefit from any developments. Recent reports indicate that the Manchester Airport Group have put together a bid team to discuss the option of buying both Gatwick and Glasgow airports. While discussions are almost certain to include negotiations on price, it could be a beneficial move for the group. This may not be music to the ears of BAA however, it is likely they would have preferred to sell Stansted rather than Gatwick, but MAG chiefs are adamant that due to Gatwick's likeness to Manchester in terms of operations, this is a more preferable purchase.

Naturally any buyout would be lucrative; the large number of income generated by Glasgow's and Gatwick's car hire services, shops and restaurants makes any deal extremely worthwhile. It is likely however that the finances needed would require MAG to partner with another company; those in the running are predominantly European groups such as Germany's Hochtief, or Credit Suisse. With MAG being part owned by Manchester City Council, issues concerned with public funding of any buyout may also occur.

As with every airport in the UK, security has become a major issue at Manchester. As a result, executives have enacted high technology solutions to the problems of security. One of these solutions is the iris scanning of all staff members that enter the airside component of the terminals. It is hoped that this system will control the access of the thirty thousand staff to sensitive areas. The system is still in its induction period but executives are hopeful that it will limit if not totally diminish any instances of unauthorised access to aircraft and the airfield apron.

Today Manchester has evolved considerably from its humble beginnings. The group in ownership is wealthy enough to consider buyouts of other UK airports while security measures are some of the most advanced in the country. One thing is certain, the site will continue to develop in order to service the UK's second city and beyond.
About the Author
Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at why car hire Manchester airport services are likely to be important in the site's development.
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