Manchester Airport celebrates 85 years since first flight took off with return of iconic chandelier

Air traffic controllers on the day the first flight left Manchester Airport. Credit: Manchester Libraries

It is 85 years to the day since the first ever commercial flight took off from Manchester Airport, two days after it officially opened.

At the time the airport - which was originally called Ringway Airport - opened, King George VI was on the throne and Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister.

To mark the 85th anniversary, the airport has teamed up with Manchester Metropolitan University to bring back one of its iconic Venetian chandeliers.

The first commercial flight from Manchester Airport was a KLM flight to Amsterdam. Credit: Manchester Libraries

Before their removal in 2003, the chandeliers formed the centrepiece of Terminal 1's departure hall for over four decades.

Now, a project with the university will see one of the original pieces of glassware brought back to life, with passengers being given the chance to vote on their favourite, which will then feature in Terminal 2’s redesigned departure hall, due to open in 2025.

Since its opening, the airport has grown to become the UK's busiest airport in the North, employing tens of thousands of people and connecting the region to nearly 200 different destinations.

The chandeliers were removed in 2003. Credit: Manchester Airport

However, it's not always been smooth sailing with complaints over security queues, baggage handling and delays in the years after the pandemic.

Last year, the airport was named as the worst in the UK, after a survey by Which?.

However, restoration work is now underway to improve the airport's facilities.

The final phase of Terminal 2, a £440m investment - is expected to create thousands of jobs and unlock billions of pounds of economic value for the North over the next decade.

Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said: "We are proud to celebrate 85 years of connecting this region to the world, and it is fantastic to be joined in marking this occasion by many of the airline partners who have helped Manchester Airport grow into the UK's global gateway in the North."

Activities planned to mark the 85th anniversary include:

  • A prize draw with free flight tickets, Concorde champagne tours, Duty Free vouchers and complimentary lounge passes worth a combined £20,000.

  • A special celebration as part of the airport’s sponsorship of Manchester Day, which will take place in the city centre on Saturday 29 July and will include a pop-up holiday-themed interactive zone on Deansgate, with funfair-style games and entertainment.

  • The donation of thousands of reusable water bottles to airport staff and passengers, to promote the reduction of plastic waste and the airport’s free water refill scheme.

  • The staging of a pop-up Wythenshawe history exhibition in the Airport’s station this summer. Who Built Wythenshawe: The Forgotten Story of Ernest & Shena Simon and the Creation of Manchester’s Garden City traces the story of Wythenshawe, including a look at the airport’s history from RAF Ringway onwards, and how the airport and Wythenshawe have shaped one another.

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