Manchester Airport celebrates 80th birthday

Manchester Airport today announced a wide-ranging programme of activity to celebrate its 80th birthday with passengers, communities and colleagues past and present.

The airport’s “oak” anniversary celebrations will emphasise its regional roots and global branches, telling the story of its evolution from a single wooden hut in 1938 to the UK’s third largest airport today.

Activity will take place either side of Manchester Airport’s official birthday, on June 25, and will also look forward to how the gateway will be transformed through the £1bn investment programme currently underway.

A key pillar of the 80th celebrations will be the airport’s central role in this year’s Manchester Day parade on June 17th. Manchester Day is an annual event that celebrates everything great about the city – the perfect way to celebrate the birthday in style, with this year’s theme being “The Word on the Street”.

The airport is the official partner for this year’s event, with a special interactive float being designed for the occasion. It will tell the story of the gateway’s development through the decades, as well as highlighting its current network of more than 220 different destinations around the globe – more than any other UK airport and 15th in the world by this measure.

Scores of airport colleagues will take part in the parade, dishing out a series of giveaways to members of the public joining in with the festivities.

During its birthday week, Manchester Airport will join forces with the Bee in the City campaign, taking the wraps off a giant bee in its Ground Transport Interchange. The bee will have a theme of “80 days around the world,” again pointing to the airport’s extensive route network. It will be one of the many bees that eventually go on auction to raise funds for the I Love Manchester fund.

The airport is also set to open up the archives and curate a special exhibition of artefacts from across the decades. These include old airline memorabilia, uniforms and antique luggage scales, some not being seen for many years. These will go on display at the airport’s Runway Visitor Park for its thousands of visitors to see, free of charge.

Also at the Runway Visitor Park the annual Aviation & Transport Festival will be celebrating all things 80 with classic cars & vehicles historic military transport and aviation exhibits on show on 30th June and 1st July.

Manchester Airport will also be partnering with airline KLM, who operated the first commercial flight on 27th June 1938 to Amsterdam via Doncaster. The Dutch national carrier is planning a range of activities to celebrate this milestone with its passengers.

A range of activities for communities surrounding the airport will also be delivered as part of the celebrations.

The airport today made a pledge to plant 80 oak trees around the region, working community organisations to decide the locations for them.

There will also be a host of 80th birthday tea parties and a school competition to design the airport’s official birthday card.

All of the activity will be backed up by exclusive content on the airport’s social media platforms where fans and followers can engage with facts, figures, videos and much more.

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport said:

“Marking 80 years is a milestone everyone at the airport is incredibly proud of. As we look back, it is clear to see Manchester is a totally different airport to when it first opened in 1938, but we have never lost sight of our local roots and the important role we play in the lives of those living and working around us.

“As passenger numbers have grown, along with the number of places we fly to, so have the benefits we deliver to the region, in terms of the number of jobs created, businesses supported through our investment or the trade and tourism links we provide.

“I look forward to the coming years and seeing the airport develop through our £1bn transformation programme that will see Manchester continue to be a world-class airport for all of the North.”

The Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said:

“Manchester Airport is integral to the city’s prosperity and future growth, helping us to attract investment from around the globe and create jobs, while connecting international visitors with everything we have to offer.  It’s also a really important local employer, so it’s fitting that staff from the Airport will be joining us for the Manchester Day parade, as part of the 80th anniversary celebrations for this vital asset to Manchester.”

Ivo Seffens, Head of Commercial for Air France KLM said:

“We are extremely proud to be celebrating 80 years of operation from Manchester Airport this summer, a significant milestone in the long partnership between KLM and the Manchester region. Having commenced operations with a Douglas DC2 back in 1938, we now offer the local community five daily flights between Manchester and Amsterdam, with many of our passengers travelling onwards to our extensive network of 165 destinations worldwide.

“We are looking forward to celebrating this milestone with our customers and are confident that our continued investment in both our product and route network will further support both tourism and local business in the region.”

Manchester was the first city in Great Britain to establish a municipal aerodrome when an Air Ministry licence was granted to the Corporation on April 22nd 1929. In January 1934, an airline’s senior pilot claimed that the existing Barton site for Manchester was unsuitable and by July 1934 the City Council had chosen Ringway, as Manchester Airport used to be known, as a new home.