Manchester Airport (MAN) also known as Ringway is set to close two of its three terminals as a direct result of the coronavirus. The UK’s third-biggest airport and the largest by passenger numbers outside of London announced the move yesterday following a steep decline in passenger numbers.
The largest airport in the north of England is now set to close Terminal Two and Terminal Three and will continue operating with all passengers now flying into and out of Terminal One.
Terminals to close on Wednesday
This latest move in the United Kingdom’s aviation scene will come into effect starting on Wednesday, March 25th.
“Like all airports across the world, Manchester Airport has experienced a significant fall in passenger volumes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the airport said in a statement. “Given this reduction in departing and arriving flights, and the likelihood of traffic will decline further, we have taken the decision to work towards operating from a single terminal.
“This [closure] will happen on Wednesday, March 25, and all flights that were due to depart from Terminal Two and Terminal Three will now do so from Terminal One. This means passengers should check-in and pass through security in Terminal One from this date.
“Anyone due to return to Manchester Airport will arrive into Terminal One, regardless of the Terminal they originally departed from. Those due to collect passengers from the Airport should also be aware of this change,” the statement continued.
The UK imposes travel restrictions
Not long before the airport said that it would be closing two of its three terminals, Number 10 Downing Street announced that the Foreign Office had issued an advisory, telling British citizens not to fly to European destinations for at least 30 days. This and other news related to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy and Spain has already seen the demise of Flybe. Meanwhile, budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet have cancelled thousands of flights to both UK and European destinations.
“We would like to thank our customers for their understanding, and would also like to place on record our thanks to our colleagues, who have shown huge dedication and professionalism during this challenging time,” Manchester Airport said.
Manchester Airports’ decision to close two-thirds of its terminals should not further harm staff as the airport operator already had plans in place to reduce employee numbers during the coronavirus crisis.
As for the airlines, operating out of the north’s biggest airport, they already had plans in place to furlough non-essential staff while at the same time cutting the hours of other employees.
As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Council has decided to waive its rules that required airlines to operate at least 80% of scheduled flights if they wanted to retain coveted landing slots at Europe’s busiest airports.
This move now gives airlines the discretion to cancel flights to airports like Manchester without the fear that they may lose their all-important time slots.
Some smaller airports may have to close
At the moment, the waiver by the European council is set to expire on October 24th. However, this could easily be extended should the current situation continue past the summer.
While Manchester Airport will weather the storm, some of the United Kingdom’s smaller airports may not do as well, and as passenger numbers decline there is a big risk that they will at least temporarily shut down, shedding hundreds of jobs.