Outside of London Manchester Airport is currently the largest in the UK. Within Europe it stands in twelfth position of the busiest airports and around ninety five airlines regularly use its runways to fly both passengers and cargo to destinations all over the world. The destinations available to passengers at Manchester Airport number around one hundred and eighty, with twenty million passengers passing through annually.
Ownership of the airport lies with MAG or the Manchester Airport Group, one of the country's biggest rivals to BAA. Currently there are three terminals, all with car hire desks, shops, restaurants and cafes. With so many accompanying services it is understandable that the site can generate around six hundred million pounds a year whilst employing more than thirty thousand local residents.
The life of Manchester Airport began in another guise, that of the Ringfield Aerodrome, the name of a nearby village. From this point it became the airport of choice in the north of England and was soon earmarked for further development. Originally however this development was as a military base, the site being used to train the newly formed parachute regiments that were so vital in securing victory after D Day. In addition the site was extensively used by the British aircraft manufacturer Avro, predominantly using the Ringfield Aerodrome to test the many types of bomber it produced such as the Lancaster.
It was due to this purpose as a testing location for bombers that made Manchester Airport so ripe for development after the war. It already had a lengthy runway that could cope with the new breed of jet engine passenger planes. This part of Manchester's development continued with the construction of terminals and larger runways to accommodate larger and larger jets as well as higher passenger numbers. Naturally all of this development included the incorporation of car hire desks, shops and restaurants as these were a key element in the airport's financial plans.
Recently MAG has been in the news over a supposed buyout of one of BAA's sites. This is because BAA has had their practices called into question by the Competition Commission as they own nearly every major airport within Britain. Subsequently the group have been forced to sell at least three of its sites in the UK. One of these sites, Gatwick may be bought by the Manchester Airport Group as its revenues created by car hire services, shops and cafes are great, as well as the fact that its operational activities match those of Manchester itself.
Such a deal is likely to be lucrative; especially when the revenues generated by Gatwick's auxiliary services such as car hire provisions, cafes and restaurants is factored in. However MAG's current finances would not let them buyout Gatwick immediately and solely, the more likely outcome is a partnership with another financial investor to allow MAG to take over the southern airport.
The incorporation of Manchester's technologically advanced security systems is also likely to occur at any airport that MAG overtakes. These technologies include iris scanning devices on any highly secure areas that through effective use hopes to limit if not completely diminish the instances of unauthorised personnel being grated entry to sensitive areas. Whilst this system is currently being trialled it is probable that it will be widely used in the future.
Manchester Airport has developed from a small military site that was predominantly used for testing to a modern part of the UK's air transportation network. Whether the buyouts arise is still a matter of conjecture but it is certain that an increase in passenger numbers at Manchester will lead to greater revenues generated by car hire companies, retailers and hoteliers.
Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at how car hire Manchester Airport services are likely to be important in the site's future development.