AS THE decision to expand Heathrow airport threatens to open up a runway-sized rift in the Tory party, Manchester Airport boss Ken O’Toole – who has previously criticised the government’s aviation policy over its south-east bias – took Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision on the chin.

The new aviation policy looks at what is best for the UK as a whole

However, O’Toole did urge the Government to develop a new national aviation policy, which wouldn’t leave regional airports such as those owned by Manchester Airports Group (Manchester, Stanstead, East Midlands and Bournemouth) scrambling for crumbs.

“Analysis shows that growing Manchester Airport to 55 million passengers per year would generate £75 billion worth of economic benefit to the North West – six times more than a new runway at Heathrow would,” he said.

Manchester Airport – the UK’s third largest airport - is soon expected to hit 25 million passengers for the year, and is the only English airport hub, other than Heathrow, with two runways.

Here’s O’Toole’s reaction to the Heathrow announcement in full:

“Connecting the UK to the rest of the world is key to driving economic growth.

"Now that a decision has been taken on the location of a new runway, there is an opportunity to develop a new aviation policy that seeks to maximise the contribution all airports can make to improving our global connectivity. We welcome the Government's commitment to doing just that.

"Airports up and down the country, including Manchester, have a critical role in the future prosperity of both the regions they serve and the country as a whole. For example, Manchester’s two existing full-length runways have the ability to handle up to 55 million passengers per year – more than double current numbers.

"While a new runway at Heathrow will be good for the UK economy, analysis shows that growing Manchester Airport to 55m passengers per year would generate £75 billion worth of economic benefit to the North West, six times more than a new runway at Heathrow would. Realising Manchester Airport's full potential will be the thing that delivers most benefit to the Northern economy in years to come; through the employment, trade and investment that it will generate.

Where do Manchester Airport's passengers come from?

- Cheshire - 2,264,928
- Greater Manchester – 6,859,105
- Merseyside – 1,885,005
- Lancashire – 2,081,365
- Cumbria – 531,480
- Yorkshire – 4,240,407
- Tyne and Wear – 124,659
- North Wales – 861,934

"So, an immediate priority for Government must be to work with airports to make the best possible use of existing capacity in the ten to fifteen years before a new runway can be delivered.

“That includes pressing ahead with initiatives that encourage the development of new routes from Manchester - such as the integration of road, rail and aviation policies - and ensuring we have a tax regime that stimulates, rather than inhibits, global connectivity.

"We must learn the lessons from the slow Airports Commission process, which has been incredibly protracted, and ensure the new aviation policy looks at what is best for the UK as a whole and enables all airports to compete successfully on the global stage."

Earlier this year, airport bosses unveiled a CGI fly-through showing how the airport could look in 2025 following a £1bn investment, which would include the demolition of Terminal 1 and a 140% expansion of Terminal 2.  

Meanwhile, plans for the nearby £800m Airport City move forward, with work well underway on a 130,000 sq ft logistics facility from Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI). Construction is also underway on site at Amazon’s new 260,000 sq ft warehouse.

.CGI of Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 following the Manchester Airport Transformation Programme

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