Muse Developments, Argent with Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund, Ask Developments, Carillion and Kier Property are vying to make it onto the final shortlist for the £650m development.
Industrial property specialists Goodman and Segro are also understood to be bidding for the Airport City South logistics park element of the mixed-use scheme. Manchester Airports Group has not ruled out appointing a consortium of development partners.
Interviews have taken place with the bidders, whose detailed proposals including joint venture terms are due to be handed to the airport by the end of this week.
The shortlist is full of familiar names to North West development but lacks the international big hitters MAG predicted at the start of procurement in summer 2012 would be attracted to this "unique scheme that we are sure will be of interest to major development partners involved in global development projects."
Large overseas property groups are said by development consultants in Manchester to see Airport City as too risky and long-term. Their UK focus remains on shorter term opportunities with identifiable returns in London. The fall-through of the Malaysian funding for Genr8's bid for ITV land in the city centre echoes that viewpoint.
Anthony Martin, executive director and head of investment advisory at CBRE, adviser to MAG, said: "We've been very pleased in the level of interest for the Airport City scheme at Manchester Airport, from a range of international developers. Manchester is a city with a defined brand across the globe and the attraction of being involved in a long term project alongside an airport group like MAG has helped to attract widespread interest. We are currently involved in the selection process for the investor partner and look forward to announcing to the successful party in due course."
MAG has planning permission for 1m sq ft of offices, 382,639 sq ft of advanced manufacturing, 2,400 new hotel beds, and 1.4m sq ft of logistics space in a range of large, medium and small logistics units.