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Manchester Airport eyes zero-emission aircraft in the next decade


Next-generation, zero-emission planes could be operating out of Manchester Airport within the next decade.

That’s the challenge set as part of a series of ambitious commitments announced recently by Manchester Airport bosses.

The airport’s parent company has fired the starting pistol on a competition for the first airline to operate a zero-emission commercial flight from one of its airports with a timescale of 10–15 years.

This is the first challenge of its kind in the industry, which will see the successful carrier win five years’ free landing fees – worth up to £1.3million in today’s prices.

The competition comes as MAG publishes its annual CSR report, which includes a landmark commitment to become a net zero carbon business by 2038.

This aim puts it 12 years ahead of the UK’s aviation industry target to become net zero carbon by 2050.

The pledge also aligns with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s 2038 environmental targets.

As well as the net zero carbon commitment, MAG has committed to a series of community targets, such as investing £100,000 a year in supporting local projects, and education and employment goals, including supporting the education of 50,000 young people.

This year’s annual report shines a light on the role the airport plays in the regional economy and local communities.

Examples of activity delivered in the last year include:

  • Hundreds of phone calls made by airport workers to local people left isolated during the coronavirus lockdown
  • Supporting the Covid-19 response in the region through fast-tracking almost £20,000 of Community Trust Fund donations to local charities
  • Working with on-site partners to deliver 3,000 frozen airline meals to local food charities
  • The construction of the AeroZone, a dedicated education facility for local schools, which will showcase the range of employment available on site once restrictions are lifted
  • Harnessing new technology in the construction of the airport’s new extension to T2, due to open in 2021, which will be around 15% more efficient than the existing T2
  • Continuing the 100% track record of placing people in employment who have received training through the airport’s on-site academy

Airlines taking part in the competition will be given free rein in their choice of low-emission technology, including electric and hydrogen technology.

It comes after global manufacturer Airbus last month revealed three concept ‘ZEROe’ hydrogen powered commercial aircraft.

The first commercial-grade six-seater aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell was also showcased at Cranfield University in September.



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