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Development of local airports the way forward says the Manchester Airports Group

Now, this piece of news caught my attention. Being a traveler and having been in many airports, and spending time going to and fro, I’m always interested in any developments that might impact travel and travelers.

Some of you might remember my airport woes in Brussels last year, where I missed a flight because of 2 airports in the same city and landed up in the wrong one. And you might be wondering why I’m still talking about having more airports in the same area! But the more I think of it, the more it makes sense. And I’ll come to it later.

But back to the report.

This one pertains to Manchester Airport in the UK which is calling for development of local airports and with good reason.

The UK has been, and always will be, an incredibly popular choice for vacations, and while most choose to travel to London, there are still millions of people who travel outside the iconic city every year. In fact, travel outside of London is so popular, the country’s busiest regional airport, Manchester Airport, is now calling on the government to begin investing in local airports, rather than create a hub in the area.

So the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the company that manages Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, told The Times that passenger numbers have continued to rise, by 10.7% from last year to a record-breaking 48.5 million. Employing 39,000 people in their airports, MAG has reportedly contributed £5.6 billion in economic activity, and they expect these numbers to grow.

Manchester Airport saw its busiest September this year, with 2.4 million passengers going through its terminals, but John Twigg, planning director of Manchester Airports Group, says that they can cater to so much more, as well as provide “tens of thousands” of jobs, if only they had the proper support. According to the Manchester Evening News, “He said they were planning to double passenger numbers, in part by investing £1bn in an expansion project – which could create tens of thousands of jobs.” But for this, they needed the support of the local government to create better transportation options for their passengers.

Airport parking service Parking4less says that the airport currently “caters for travellers driving to the airport with an extensive range of car parking options from Meet & Greet Valet parking, short stay and long stay parking to hotels with parking packages included” but unlike Heathrow and Gatwick in London, the airport doesn’t have its own dedicated bus and tram lines. As MAG says, “The transport infrastructure is really important, that’s the glue that sticks this economic powerhouse together… Because if we can’t get people here, they can’t fly; if we can’t get goods here, they can’t export.”

Despite their current efforts to expand their services, MAG has also called on the local government to look into developing other local airports, saying that this would be a better option over simply creating a travel hub in the region. MAG director of corporate responsibility, Neil Robinson, said the development of local airports would provide a greater boost to the nation. “People up and down the country, whether they are looking to travel on leisure or business, or find employment, tell us time again how valuable it is to have access to their local airport… Not only does a nationwide network of competing airports provide the best solution for customers, but it also provides an important catalyst for rebalancing UK plc.”

So, this is beginning to sound like a good idea. I’ve always wondered how much more pleasant and easier travel would be, for example, if they developed another 3-4 local airports in Karnataka to take away the congestion from the Kempegowda International airport.

While more local airports may be a great idea for the economy, it could lead to some confusion for people like me used to having one major hub in the region. But then, it would also make me more careful about making sure I have the correct name and location of the airport, before I head out on a train to a generic “airport”.

So, what do you think: more local airport developments, a good idea? Or will it just add up to the confusion for a traveler?

(Feature image: Wikipedia Commons)

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