Services operate at 12-minute intervals between the airport and currently terminate at Cornbrook, where passengers can change onto services into the city centre. However services from the airport will be extended into the centre of Manchester when the Second City Crossing is completed in 2017.

The airport line has 15 stations, including a 300-space park-and-ride facility at Sale Water Park, which is located near the M60 highway.

The opening of the line was marked with a visit from Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr George Osborne, who announced that central government powers for transport investment will be devolved to the city of Manchester. Under the plans Metrolink will come under the powers of a the city's elected mayor, supporting the rollout of contactless smartcard ticketing system.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) says the move will also enable it to implement the £350m 5.5km Metrolink extension to Trafford Park "as a priority."