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Contractors view

CLIENT GUIDE: MANCHESTER AIRPORT

The new style three stage design and build contract being trialled on the transport interchange project and based on partnering, open book accounting and cost certainty, has all the ingredients for success, say regular airport contractors. But several added cautiously: 'It has to work because the airport is not the easiest of clients.'

Tough, adversarial, aloof and easy to fall out with are some of the comments levelled by contractors, though they stress that individual airport staff are fair and professional in their dealings. The new design and build contract apart, it is argued by contractors that most procurement routes result in an unusually high proportion of claims. 'The airport is very quick to go legal, ' say several seasoned companies.

Asked for causes of this 'them and us' approach, contractors thought the airport's command chain was too long and complex. Indecision and buck passing were the result, they claim.

All welcome the new style partnering approach where designs are fully developed and most contract packages let before a guaranteed maximum price is demanded. This indicates, say contractors, that the airport knew it had to change and the way it is going about it 'looks positive'.

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