Photo: Manchester Airport's file.

MIAMI – Today in Aviation marks the 82nd anniversary of the public opening of Manchester Airport (MAN) in Ringway on June 25, 1938.

At that time, the airfield was called Ringway, named after the parish it was located at. Two days after MAN’s inauguration, its first scheduled flight operated by KLM (KL) took to the skies.

Control tower of Barton Airport.
Photo: Peel L&P.

Building project (1928-1938)


In 1928, the Manchester City Council decided to establish a municipal airport at the choosen site in Barton. During the building period of the new aerodrome, authorities opened Wythenshawe as a temporary airfield.

Two years later, the airport is ready and includes a control tower and a large hangar. However, KLM, the first airline to fly to the airfield, and Barton’s operators considered that the aerodrome was not appropriate for larger aircraft.

In addition, the small dimensions of the airfield and the costs related to making the necessary enhancements were not the best scenario to open a Holland-England service, let alone expand other airline operations.

First runway of Ringway Airport.
Photo: Manchester Evening News.

A vote of confidence


As a result of this necessity to grow, Manchester City Council voted to build the city’s new airport at the Ringway site. In November of 1935, construction work started.

By 1937, the airport had been used while still under construction. One incident involved a test flight operated by de Havilland Hornet Moth, which landed at Ringway as the Pilot could not ground at Barton due to fog.

In addition, with a major part of the airfield already built, Fairey Aviation was allowed to use a hangar at the airport.

Photo: Manchester Airport’s file.

Inauguration day and first flight


By 1938, Ringway airport was ready for bigger operations.

On June 25, 1938, Ringway’s terminal building was opened alongside a public air display. The airport featured a control tower, administration facilities, a restaurant, and a hangar later named Hangar 1.

On June 27 of that year, KL carried its first scheduled flight to Amsterdam with a Douglas DC-2.

In its first 14 months, 7,600 passengers passed through Ringway airfield, according to its official numbers.

An early plan of the airfield shows the position before the onset of war transformed the site dramatically.
Photo: Manchester Airport’s file.

From Ringway to Manchester Airport


After being used as a site for producing and repairing military aircraft as well as training Pilots during World War II, the airport resumed civilian operations.

With other incorporated enhancementsand expansions, in 1975, Ringway airport was renamed as Manchester International Airport.

However, in 1986, the airfield’s name was changed again to Manchester Airport. The following year, MAN reached its first million passengers.

Photo: Manchester Evening News.

Manchester Airport today


In 2016, MAN was the third busiest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers and the busiest of those not serving London.

The airport comprises three passenger terminals and a goods terminal, and is the only airport in the UK other than London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to operate two runways over 3,280 yd (2,999 m) in length.

Manchester Airport covers an area of 560 hectares (1,400 acres) and has flights to 199 destinations, placing MAN thirteenth globally for total destinations served.

In May 2019, MAN announced an eight percent year-on-year increase with its passenger numbers for the previous month.

The milestone meant that for the first time in the airport’s history, it surpassed the 28.8 million mark.

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