LONDON – Yesterday has seen Manchester Airport inaugurate the first phase of its transformation programme.

This is the first stage in the £1 billion investment made by the airport. Passengers flying out were welcomed onto a giant new pier, which connects Terminal 2, for the first time.

Commenting on the opening was CEO of Manchester Airport, Andrew Cowan who highlighted what this means for Manchester.

“Today is a significant milestone for Manchester Airport as we deliver the first phase of the biggest investment we have made in our 80 year history.

“We are delighted to wave off the first handful of flights from the new pier, as we build up to bringing it into full operation in the days ahead.

“What that means is our customers can start to enjoy the new facilities, at the same time as getting a taste of what to expect from the next stages of our £1bn transformation programme.

“Today is just the start. Over the coming years we will transform the airport for all of our customers, giving the North the world class airport it deserves. The investment we are making and the range of destinations we connect to, in all corners of the world, underlines the vital role Manchester Airport plays in creating jobs and driving growth across the North of England.

“Having first put a spade in the ground in July 2017, a huge amount of work has gone into getting our new pier and multi-storey car park ready to open today and I would like to thank all of our colleagues and delivery partners for their efforts.”

The first flights that operated were from TUI Airways, with services to Madeira and Naples inaugurating this new pier.

Managing Director of TUI Airways Dawn Wilson expressed how much of an honour it was for the airline to use the new pier.

“It’s a real honour to be part of this landmark occasion at Manchester Airport – a major hub for TUI Airways. To operate the first flights from the new Pier One is a proud moment, and another first to add to the list of memories and history we have at Manchester.

“The transformation project is improving the overall holiday experience for thousands of our customers which is an ethos we live by; seamless service from the moment you begin your holiday journey.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Manchester and investing in the region through increased capacity, new routes, and basing new aircraft there, allowing more choice and flexibility for holidaymakers in the North West.”

The 216 metre-long pier will be used by all airlines operating out of Terminal 2 currently.

It is equipped with 11 gates and airbridges, with more than 1,400 seats and stylish wayfinding throughout.

Over the next few weeks, more flights will move over to the new pier and will become fully operational by the end of the month.

Work is underway for the second part of the expansion which is the extension to the existing terminal 2. Work is underway and will see Terminal 2 double in size.

It is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2020 with 40 new food and beverage outlets as well as shops, followed by an additional 40 when the building is fully refurbished.

This is a significant milestone for the airport, as it aims to grow and attract more business overseas and beyond.

It will aim to boost the passenger numbers into the 30 million per year mark. The airport is currently at 28.5 million annually.

It has already attracted some new business.

Pegasus Airlines announced today that it would operate to the airport from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport from July 1 this year.

It will be interesting to see what else it will attract, especially with the further expansion plans that will open next year too.