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Tight security at Galliford Try’s Manchester airport job

Working on the Manchester Airport expansion has presented Galliford Try with some uncommon logistical concerns.

Going through airport security can make plane travel a hassle with all the queuing and waiting time it adds. Now imagine having up to 30 operatives – plus their vehicles – going through that. Every single day.

This is just one of the challenges Galliford Try faces in its work to expand Manchester Airport, which I toured as part of Open Doors 2018 on Tuesday.

Manchester Airport is the third-busiest airport in the UK, serving 27.8m passengers a year. But with its two runways it could serve more, with forecasts showing it could handle 35m passengers by 2025 if the airport’s terminals were expanded.

Part of the challenge is that when planes land, they taxi right up to the terminal, drop people off, then have to taxi to another area for cleaning and preparation, and then taxi back to the terminal to pick passengers up for another flight.

To reduce this inefficient back-and-forth, the Manchester Airport transformation plan will see £1bn spent between 2015 and 2025 to expand terminal two and add four piers to it.

When complete, over 50 planes will be able to dock, drop off passengers, get serviced, pick up and go, without the need to for extra taxiing.

Galliford Try has carried out groundworks for the first pier, which is being delivered by Laing O’Rourke, as well as expanding the ‘apron’ the planes manoeuvre on.

This all requires a huge amount of concrete, so Galliford Try decided to install a batching plant on its narrow site, squeezed between the live airfield and Laing O’Rourke’s site on one side, and a still-operational car park on the other, making supply more efficient and reducing road traffic.

Galliford Try area delivery manager John Redford told the Open Doors tour, which included a high school student interested in an apprenticeship and an engineering student looking at graduate opportunities, that the site was the largest construction project in the North-west.

The biggest challenge on the £1bn job is working with the tight security and coordinating with the airport, Laing O’Rourke, who are working on a different element of the expansion, and other stakeholders.

“It’s relatively straight-forward, bread and butter work, but all the interfaces [between parties] makes it quite challenging,” Mr Redford said.

“There’s a lot of communication. A lot of meetings with Laing O’Rourke, MAG (Manchester Airport Group) and various stakeholders.”

In spite of what must be a daily logistical headache on this key infrastructure project, the Galliford Try team are confident of delivering the job as part of its framework to 2021 on time and to budget, partly thanks to being able to draw on the company’s experience delivering jobs at Stansted and East Midlands airports.

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