New buildings, new destinations and a new name to match catapulted Manchester to the top of the league for regional airports in the 1970s.

At the start of the decade it was Ringway Airport, still echoing its former RAF base roots.

By the end of the 70s it was Manchester International Airport – the only Category A international airport in the UK outside London.

Passengers escape from the stricken Dan-Air flight to Manchester, May 1973

Passengers escape from the stricken Dan-Air flight to Manchester, May 1973

Manchester hosted no less than 15 airlines operating scheduled services to 37 destinations in the UK, Europe and North America.

Much of the airport’s expansion was driven by the popularity of package holidays. During 1972, more than 8.5 million Brits took a holiday abroad, mainly to Spain, France Belgium and Austria.

More adventurous holidaymakers jetted off to Greece and Turkey, later to become staple destinations for the tourist trade.

The British Airways BA 1-11 from Manchester involved in a hijack drama, January 1975

The British Airways BA 1-11 from Manchester involved in a hijack drama, January 1975

For those seeking transatlantic travel, the extended 2,745 metre runway enabled flights bound for Canada to take off fully loaded for the first time.

The airport reached the milestone of handling more than two million passengers a year in 1971 and opened the link road to the M56 motorway in 1973.

The first BOAC Boeing 747 Jumbo jet landed in 1970 and air-conditioned international piers opened in 1974. Designed to handle 747s, the piers were the first to be equipped with air-bridges connecting passengers directly to aircraft.

George Best and Siv Hederby at the airport car park, August 1970

George Best and Siv Hederby at the airport car park, August 1970

Ringway became Manchester International Airport in 1975. The word ‘International’ was later dropped as it was increasingly stating the obvious.

The 1970s also saw an increase in the number of famous faces flying to and from Manchester, including football teams and sports stars, singers and entertainers and our own Royal family.

The start of the decade, however, was marked by tragedy.

Don Revie, centre, flies into Manchester with his back-room staff, May 1973

Don Revie, centre, flies into Manchester with his back-room staff, May 1973

On July 3rd 1970, a Dan-Air flight from Manchester to Barcelona crashed into the wooded slopes of the Serralada del Montseny in Catalonia, killing all 112 passengers and seven crew.

It was the deadliest civil aviation flight of 1970 and Dan-Air’s first involving fare-paying passengers.

Three years later, in May 1973, an inbound Dan-Air flight from Spain to Manchester experienced a failure in its nose-wheel landing gear and was diverted to RAF Marston.

Bill Shankly signs an autograph for airport policemen, November 1972

Bill Shankly signs an autograph for airport policemen, November 1972

This time the plane landed safely and all the passengers and crew escaped using emergency exit chutes. The aircraft, a Comet, never flew again. It was sold to the Ministry of Defence for SAS training.

There was more drama in January 1975 when a British Airways BAC 1-11 airliner on a routine flight from Manchester to Heathrow was hijacked by a man armed with a gun and explosives.

The airliner arrived at Heathrow where the hijacker agreed to free the passengers on the conditions that he would be paid £100,000 and flown to Paris. The plane never got there.

Terminal building at Manchester International Airport, June 1975

Terminal building at Manchester International Airport, June 1975

After refuelling, the aircraft landed at Stansted where the hijacker was arrested. His gun turned out to be a toy and his explosives were imitation.

Less eventful flights to and from Manchester in the 1970s were made by a host of celebrities, including football teams and their managers playing European opposition.

One of the most famous was Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger George Best, who was pictured with his girlfriend Siv Hederby and E-Type Jaguar at the airport car park in August 1970.

Lol Crème, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman of 10cc, June 1975

Lol Crème, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman of 10cc, June 1975

Earlier in the year, Best had scored an FA Cup record six goals in the 8-2 win over Northampton Town. His last goal left Northampton goalkeeper Kim Book sitting in the mud at the County Ground as Best feinted to go right – then went left.

Book was sanguine about the experience. ‘He was just too good for me,’ he later said.

Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was signing autographs for policemen at the airport in November 1972. The Reds were at Ringway to fly to Greece to play AEK Athens in the UEFA Cup.

The Duke of Edinburgh waves to schoolchildren at Manchester Airport, July 1979

The Duke of Edinburgh waves to schoolchildren at Manchester Airport, July 1979

They won 3-1 and went on to secure the trophy after beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 on aggregate in the final.

Former Manchester City captain Don Revie passed through Ringway in May 1973 as manager of Leeds United. His side had just lost the European Cup Winners Cup Final 0-1 to AC Milan in Greece.

Stockport band 10cc flew out on tour from Manchester in June 1975, a year after their iconic song I’m Not in Love became a worldwide hit. Our image shows, from left, Lol Crème, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley ad Graham Gouldman.

Finally, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was delighted to wave to schoolchildren who were cheering from the top of the piers when he flew in for a two-day visit to Manchester and Salford.