Manchester Airport is following the lead of fellow airport client BAA by offering framework deals for consultants.
The airport has put out nine construction-related framework contracts. Firms accepted onto the frameworks stand to win a share of a £1bn construction spend over the next 15 years.

The present deals are restricted to QSs, architects and engineers. However, it is understood that the airport is trialling partnering deals on smaller projects with main contractors such as Kier. This will lead to new framework contractor deals.

The upcoming consultant contracts are also set to include BAA-style MOT tests that contractors must pass in order to stay on the framework lists.

The move is something of a departure for the airport, which has been described as the toughest client in construction.

One source said the move to framework deals had been expected. He said: "It's been mooted for some time. The spend is so big they need to have these deals in place to get it done."

The airport has previously experimented with different procurement methods, including management contracting and construction management.

The move to framework deals has been mooted for some time because the spend is so big

Source close to Manchester Airport

Local sources claim that the £1bn spend by Manchester will make it the biggest client in the north of England. The airport last year predicted that it would overtake Gatwick as the UK's second biggest airport by 2012.

One source said the workload would involve new build, including three terminal buildings, and maintenance and other outsourcing work.

The contracts will cover project management, quantity surveying, interior design, architecture, landscape architecture, and structural, M&E and civil engineering.

The decision to switch to a framework arrangements comes after similar moves by other large clients, such as J Sainsbury and Boots.