THE Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, visited Manchester Airport’s £1 billion transformation programme to mark the 80th apprentice starting work on site.

During a tour of the project’s construction site, the Mayor also met small and medium-sized companies from around Greater Manchester that are benefitting from being awarded contracts to deliver the scheme.

Tom Bedford, 18, is working for Bedford Fabrications as a Fabricator/Welder and became the project’s 80th apprentice a month after the UK’s third largest airport turned 80.

Over the course of the project – the largest investment in the airport’s history – more than 150 apprentices will be recruited.

It comes as the number of people currently working on one of the largest construction projects in the North of England reached more than 1,000. Of those, 72 per cent are from within a 35-mile radius.

Mr Burnham said: “Manchester Airport is a massive asset to our city region, connecting those living and working here to more global destinations than ever before, as well as helping attract visitors and tourists in the other direction.

“The investment it is making will further enhance Greater Manchester’s international credentials and make a major contribution to placing the city region at the heart of a prosperous Northern economy.

“What is great to see is that the project is also doing a huge amount to create employment for people from all backgrounds and providing training that will ensure it leaves a skills legacy for future generations.

“The fact so many Greater Manchester businesses are working on the airport’s transformation, creating and sustaining jobs in the process, can only be good news for our economy.”

Rob Stewart, Programme Delivery Director for MAN-TP, said: “This is the largest ever investment in Manchester Airport.

“As well as transforming the airport and the customer experience it’s also great to see that the project is having a hugely positive impact on the lives of people who are able to secure jobs on site and to many firms across Greater Manchester who are delivering various aspects of the scheme.”

After the tour, the Mayor visited the Good Mood Food canteen which is located on the construction site for workers. The café is run by Laing O’Rourke in conjunction with Manchester MIND, a mental health charity. As well as usual favourites, it also offers a healthier menu and encourages good wellbeing with 10 per cent of profits going to Manchester MIND.

Laing O’Rourke Project Director, Bryan Glass said: “We were delighted to welcome Andy Burnham to the project and introduce him to our apprentices and members of our local supply chain. As well as delivering the transformation of Terminal 2, we are absolutely committed to leaving a positive legacy in the local area.

“The apprentices that begin their career on a project of this scale will look back with pride at the contribution they have made, and the skills they develop here will allow them to progress onto future projects. In time, our apprentices may well lead in the delivery of other iconic UK buildings and infrastructure.”