Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

Northern Powerhouse: Growing long-haul flights key to unlocking China potential, say Manchester Airport

Northern Powerhouse: Growing long-haul flights key to unlocking China potential, say Manchester Airport

| By Liam Soutar

Manchester Airport have unveiled plans for a £1bn transformation they say will help drive the creation of the Northern Powerhouse.

Designs revealed in the below video show what the airport will look like in 10 years in a bid to increase air-site space and handling capacity for 21st century air travel.

Upgrades include:

  • Double-height ceilings in the terminal building to provide more space & comfort for passengers.
  • Three brand-new ‘finger piers’ with multi-aircraft ramp systems.
  • Dedicated baggage handling facility with ‘vastly improved technology’.
  • Wider taxi ways to accommodate up to two E-code aircraft i.e. Boeing 747, at once.
  • ‘Green features’ such as combined heat/power & cooling technology.
  • New public transport interchange.
  • Alterations to the road system for cars and an expanded forecourt.

The proposed changes emphasise improving speed and efficiency, and will be built within the existing parameters of the airport campus.

Speaking at the UK Northern Powerhouse Conference at Manchester Central, Ken O’Toole, Manchester Airport’s managing director, said the project will give the whole of the North the global gateway it deserves.

"It is 18 months since the Northern Powerhouse phrase was first coined by Chancellor – and north west MP – George Osborne and some good progress has been made,” he said.

"The importance of a strong and vibrant Northern economy is more widely acknowledged than ever before and there can be no doubt there is increased recognition around the world that the North is both an attractive place to visit and to do business with."

Mr O’Toole added that the Government could do more to fully unlock the potential of the Northern economy.

"One of the key ways it can do this is ensuring UK aviation taxation policy does not make UK airports uncompetitive against our European and world peers, peers that we compete with daily for the limited aircraft that airlines have to deploy.”

The UK has the highest levels of air passenger duty in Europe – more than double the rate seen in Germany. It is passed on to passengers through ticket prices.

"At Manchester Airport, we have worked hard to develop a worldwide route network to be proud of and I have already name-checked the places we now connect to.

"But for all these successes, we are playing catch-up. Growth in long haul seats at our European peers has been two-and-half times the rate seen at Manchester Airport over the past decade.

"Just imagine the Chinese firm hunting for a location for its new European HQ, which will create 500 high value jobs. One great European city has a direct flight and one doesn't – where will it pick?”

Chinese president Xi Jingping came to Manchester last year to confirm millions of pounds worth of business deals in the North, including the first direct flight from the city to his country.