The city of Manchester often lays claim to the title of 'second city' in the United Kingdom and, in the airport stakes at least, this claim is well and truly justified — this is the second-largest airport in the UK, and third busiest, and is amongst the 50 largest airports in the world. Nearly 100 operators fly to and from hundreds of locations worldwide, including most major cities in Europe, along with services to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
With a history dating back to before the Second World War, Manchester (previously [and] known as 'Ringway') bears testament to many architectural 'styles'. In some places, the combination of moulded grey plastics and psychedelic carpet patterns makes for a heady 80s experience, but much of the airport has also seen renovation and redevelopment in recent years.
Unlike the UK's largest airport, Heathrow, Manchester is municipally owned by the 10 Greater Manchester Councils with Manchester City council having the largest share (55%) and the other councils 5% each; for every M&M dispenser and multi-pack of cigarettes (as well as anything else) you buy, you're probably saving someone, somewhere, some money on their council tax!
Manchester Airport has three terminals: Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by a 'Skylink' (neon Tron-style bridge), with 'travellators' to whisk you along and shorten the otherwise 10-15 minute walk. Terminal 3 is linked to Terminal 1 and the Skylink by an (admittedly more mundane) covered walkway. Terminal 1 is the largest at the airport, and handles the majority of European and International flights, along with Terminal 2. The third terminal is used primarily for domestic and Western European flights. The Skylink also connects all terminals to the airport railway station complex, somewhat unimaginatively known simply as 'The Station' (see below).