A planned £1 billion redevelopment of Manchester airport’s Terminal 2 will make the UK’s third-largest airport a serious rival to Heathrow and Gatwick for long-haul flying.

That’s the claim of chief executive Ken O’Toole, who spoke to Travel Weekly about its plans ahead of the airport scooping a third Globe Travel Award in consecutive years last week for Best UK Airport.

The airport is in the final stages of planning the rebuilding of Terminal 2, which will continue to operate during the four-year project.

In addition, it is in talks with US authorities to become the first UK airport to offer customs pre‑clearance for travellers, and this week launched a marketing campaign, called #USADirect, promoting its routes to US cities.

Manchester airport is also running a trade incentive offering a Mini One car as top prize.

O’Toole, whose previous employer was the decidedly trade‑unfriendly Ryanair, says in his current role he appreciates the value agents offer.

“It’s about making sure the trade knows you don’t have to go to Heathrow for long-haul destinations,” he said. “Most people want to fly from a convenient location.

“There are very few parts of the airline market today that do not see the value of the trade. We see it as an extension of our reach in communicating our offer.”

O’Toole added: “We are very conscious of the quality of the customer experience.

“We are often dependent on the performance of third parties, but passengers don’t distinguish between a ground-handler or UK Border Force.

So while we may not own all aspects of the customer journey, we have a responsibility to try to make the overall experience as pleasant as possible.”