Manchester Airport unveils plans for 80th anniversary celebration

Manchester Airport has 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 25th, and will also look forward to how the gateway will be transformed through the £1 billion investment programme currently underway.

A key pillar of the 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.

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.

Manchester Airport will also be partnering with airline KLM, who operated the first commercial flight on June 27th, 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, chief executive 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.”

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.

The original 1938 route network included the exotic hotspots of Western Super-Mare, Croydon and Doncaster.

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