Manchester Airport hopes to open its new facility in early 2021, a little over six months later than planned.
The £1 billion transformation project, which included the doubling in size of Terminal 2, was due to open this week (July 1), but has been delayed due to Covid-19.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, chief operating officer Brad Miller said: “Very, very ironically, I’m now getting excited about re-opening Terminal 3.
“July 1 was the day that we were supposed to be opening a brand new facility (the extension of Terminal 2). It’s so disheartening because of all the effort, not just from the project team, but all around.
“Our airline partners and our ground handlers, they gave us so much time throughout a five to six-year period; from inception all the way through to design, the procurement, going on site, and getting all of the operational readiness correct, so we could have the confidence to open.
“Right before we were just about to start all of our live flights and all of our real testing, lockdown hit us, so it’s just devastating really, not least because we spent a billion pounds on it,” he said.
Miller said the new facility would be “fantastic” when it does finally open.
“It looks amazing. It matches all of our aspirations, all of the computer-generated images that we’ve been sharing with people the last couple of years – it looks exactly like it. So we’re hoping early 2021 we’ll be able to open the facility,” he said.
“It’s ready from an airport operations perspective. We need to do some work with our airlines to make sure that all their crew rooms are fitted out and things like this; all of the retailers, they’re ready to go, and the lounges, etc. Not all of those are finished off yet.”
He said the terminal also needed to go through the airport’s “rigorous testing regime” before the doors open.
“We had a full schedule of about three months’ worth of testing that we had mapped out with all of our partners; we need to do that before we have the confidence to open the facility, so we’re probably looking earlier 2021, which is good in the circumstances.”
But Miller said the airport was “taking stock” of the state of the industry before pressing ahead with refurbishing its existing terminal.
“The next phase, in terms of refurbishing the existing terminal and what we do there, we’re having a ‘foot on the ball moment’ to borrow a sporting analogy, and just taking stock ourselves of what’s happening with the industry,” he said.
“Then, when are we going to go again. We know what we want to do. It’s just going to be the timing of it – and the cost.
“For ourselves, our airline partners and ground handlers, Covid is going to introduce a number of op-ex lines that we clearly didn’t expect.”