Manchester wins Best Airport award

Manchester Airport received some excellent news last week when they were named Best Airport for 2008 in the 10 to 25 million passenger category.

This much coveted award was given by the Airports Council International and was the only award to be won by a UK airport.

Particular points singled out for praise by the judges were the airport’s success in attracting new airlines, the commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, its sponsorship of the arts, and the excellent relations with the local community.

Needless to say, Manchester Airport’s MD, Andrew Cornish, was delighted with the award, particularly in light of some of the stiff competition from other European airports.

He expressed his pleasure that the efforts of all the staff at the airport in making life “as easy and hassle-free” for its customers had been recognised.

The good news came just two days after a stark warning was given that Manchester Airport must “grow or die”. Dr John Kasarda from the University of North Carolina gave the warning at the Innovation Manchester event.

He said that the city’s leaders must worry less about the airport’s carbon footprint and more about ensuring that the airport becomes the focal point for the region’s growth.

Manchester Airport, which last week celebrated its 70th anniversary, is now the largest airport outside London and fourth largest in the whole of the UK.

Passenger numbers currently stand at 22 million a year. Seventy years ago the 8,000 passengers a year had a choice of twelve destinations from Manchester.

Nowadays the airport serves 220 destinations across the globe, the greatest number of any UK airport.

Manchester Airport opens new security area

Clearing security at any airport can be a nightmare at any airport but Manchester was recently declared by travellers as one of the worst in the UK, particularly their airport security. Manchester’s response? Let’s do something about this!

Immigration guard at Manchester Airport

However, with the opening of a new £10 million security area at Terminal 1, the queues and hassle could be things of the past.

It may sound like something from Big Brother, but psychologists have been studying the body language and oral communication of passengers, from the minute they arrive at the airport to the time they board the plane, to assess the variations in their mental state. Not surprisingly, they discovered that clearing security is the most stressful experience and something that most of us want to get through as quickly as possible.

With this in mind, the airport has decided to reduce landside facilities and put all their new investment into improving facilities airside, recognising that few of us are able to relax before we have cleared security. Having jumped through the security hoops, passengers will now be able to enjoy shopping, eating and drinking in a new multi-million pound environment, one of the largest in the UK.

As far as security itself is concerned, £2.2 million has been spent on new X-ray machines which can take 3D colour images of the contents of passengers’ hand luggage. New vapour-sniffing machines have been installed to check for unauthorized liquids – a headache for most airports, following the restrictions imposed in Aug 2006. For more information about packing, security and customs, see our Manchester Security Guide.

Ten security lanes are currently open, with four more set to open next month, in time for the summer rush. Extra staff have been taken on, existing staff have had extra training in the new machinery and the security hall itself has been specially designed to induce a relaxed state of mind in passengers.

New planes at Manchester

The head of the International Air Transport Association described the service levels seen at Heathrow Airport this year as a “national embarrassment”.

Set against this bad news is the optimistic feeling emerging from Manchester Airport since the announcement that the all-new Boeing 737-900 will soon be departing from their runways.

As of May 2008, XL Airways is offering flights on this new aircraft, which is bigger and better than any of its Boeing siblings.

It is more attractive, holds dozens more passengers and, believe it or not, is even better for the environment.

During an age in which the aviation industry is suffering from an oil crisis and generally being closely monitored, it is a nice surprise to see that the new Boeing uses up to 2.5% less fuel per passenger per flight.

The new planes provide another option for passengers travelling to some of the most popular holiday destinations, such as Spain and Tenerife.

During the seven years that Manchester and XL Airways have been working together, they have made great advances in the aviation industry and introducing the new models seemed a logical step for them to take., the larger company to AL Airways, has certainly earned its stripes and was named the world’s leading charter airline in 2007.

If the service is a success, plans will be put in place to bring the new planes to London Gatwick by the end of 2009. If you want to see the new Boeing 737-900 in action then have a look here.