Manchester Airport is celebrating three milestones in its £1bn transformation programme.
Firstly, a topping out ceremony was held to mark the extension to Terminal Two reaching its highest point after just more than a year of construction.
The topping out ceremony was attended by some of the apprentices working on the scheme to mark the end of the structural work and aims to bestow good luck on a building.
The terminal is more than doubling in size through the project, which will make it one of the busiest in Europe.
Secondly, a 45m, 85 tonne bridge that will connect the terminal extension with the new multi-storey car park was lifted into place. It took four days and two cranes to install the link, which will open to passengers when the extension opens in 2020.
Finally, the main structural work has also been completed on the car park building and will be fully completed by the middle of next year.
The milestone celebrations were shared with apprentices who are working on the transformation – the biggest investment in Manchester Airport's 80 year history – and local businesses that have secured contracts as part of it.
Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: "It is exciting to mark these milestones as they demonstrate how much progress has been made on our transformation programme since starting work just more than a year ago.
"Hopefully this gives our customers an appreciation of how soon they will be able to start making use of these new state-of-the-art facilities.
"This scheme will be transformational, not just in terms of the buildings being created, but the experience we will be able to deliver to passengers and airlines.
"It is also making a major contribution to skills and employment in the region and that is why it was great to share the occasion with many of the people who are working on the project."
There has been around 9,100 pieces of steelwork installed on the Terminal Two extension and once complete it will be more than 86,000 square metres. The extension is set over five floors and will see 844 glass panels installed to provide passengers with panoramic views of the airfield.
Work will now commence to make the building water-tight, before fitting out for passengers to use from 2020. It will have an extra 60 retail and F&B units for passengers to enjoy. As well as high street retailers, the airport is keen to have a wide range of independent and local brands.
Building work on the programme started in July 2017 after a visit by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling. It's one of the biggest construction programmes in the North of England and there are currently more than 1,300 people working on site – including 90 apprentices in various trades.
As the project reaches its peak at the beginning of next year that number is expected to raise to nearly 1,500 people working on site with a target of 150 apprentices. Since the first spade went in the ground £220m has been spent with the supply chain within a 35 mile radius of the airport, many of whom are SMEs.
The first pier is set to open in April 2019 and will shortly start to undergo operational readiness trials.
Work has also been progressing on the airfield to help maximise the terminal capacity. In the first phase of airfield works, the apron has been extended to the west by Galliford Try to include new taxiways and aircraft stands around the new pier.
The second phase, which began in June 2018 involves a new taxiway, increasing the capacity of existing taxiways, new aircraft stands and AGL replacement and installation and is part of the reconfiguration of the airfield that will help to feed the redeveloped Terminal Two.
Looking further ahead, after the terminal extension the next pier is scheduled to open in 2022 and the refurbishment of the existing Terminal Two building will also be completed that year. Terminal One is currently scheduled to close by 2023 with the third pier set to open in 2024. The fully redeveloped terminal will be capable of handling 45 million passengers in 2024.