Manchester Airport continues to grow its long-haul network and earlier this month Jet Airways and Ethiopian Airlines announced they were to start new routes to the northern UK gateway.
Aviation director, Julian Carr (pictured above) talked to ARGS about the impact of the new services that are being added and how the airport plans to expand its network even more.
How important is the news that Jet Airways will start a new four-times weekly Airbus A330 route starting 5 November connecting Manchester to Mumbai?
A direct route from Manchester to Mumbai has been a key target for us, as we look to connect the North of England to key markets around the world.
With 500,000 people of Indian origin living across the North, we expect this route to be incredibly popular. Since announcing the service to Mumbai we’ve had great support from business leaders, tourism authorities and leisure travellers who are all eager for route to start.
How bigger a target was this new service into one of India’s most important cities?
Mumbai has been one of our biggest unserved routes, with 130,000 passengers currently travelling there indirectly from Manchester, so this route will be a huge boost for them and will connect the north to the world’s fastest-growing economy. The route will also deliver a major boost to businesses looking to export to the world’s fastest-growing economy, as well as helping to attract Indian visitors and investors to Manchester and the wider North.
An example of how important securing direct connections to India were for us was helping to create the Manchester-India partnership, that is chaired by Andrew Cowan, our CEO.
How many routes does Manchester now have to and from the Asian region?
To Asia, we currently have direct services to Beijing with Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, Singapore with Singapore Airlines and Lahore and Islamabad with PIA.
Beijing was a particularly key route for us and a lot of work had been put in behind the scenes to secure direct flights to mainland China. This has delivered a significant economic reward to the north. It has driven a significant increase in exports, inward investment, and international student numbers into the North.
The Middle East is also well served from Manchester with frequent flights to Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah and Muscat.
Are you targeting more routes into Asia and how important is this region to growth?
There are many cities throughout Asia that we believe could be served from Manchester in the future. When you look at the size of the populations in India and China combined with the growing business demands from our catchment area we feel there are further opportunities for additional routes in those countries. Elsewhere, we know there’s significant demand for a direct service to Thailand.
Ethiopian Airlines has also announced a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner route from Addis Ababa as of 1 December – how important is this route?
The new service to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines is hugely important for us, being our first sub-Saharan African route. This route is not just about Ethiopia, however, as it will unlock connections to more than 58 destinations across the African continent due to Ethiopian’s extensive route network as they fly to more destinations in Africa than any other carrier.
We believe 400,000 people will benefit from this service, as it will serve as a key trade route for Northern businesses, opening up fresh export opportunities and delivering cost and journey time savings to those already operating there.
What other routes do you currently have into Africa and are you looking to add more?
We currently have routes to North Africa with flights to Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
There are still a number of routes within Africa that we believe could be served direct from Manchester and we’re always talking to carriers about those opportunities.
Where now are you looking to grow your route network over the next year or two?
In terms of short-haul we expect further growth from our low-cost carriers. We should see more European destinations being opened up and increase in frequencies on our most popular routes.
Further afield there’s a growing demand for direct services and we’d like to see new routes to China and other Asian cities, the USA and increased frequencies on our existing long-haul network.
How much growth has Manchester seen in long-haul routes and traffic over the last few years?
Over the last few years we’ve really seen our long-haul network develop. We now have 13 US destinations having added routes to Boston, Houston, LA, San Francisco and Seattle.
Looking East we’ve seen our service to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific increase to daily whilst Singapore has gone back to a direct flight with Singapore Airlines. We also launched flights to Beijing which have proved to be hugely successful. Passenger volumes were 15 per cent higher than expected and export values on the route soared by 265 per cent.
The newly announced routes to Mumbai and Addis Ababa further strengthen our long-haul offering.
On the back of these new long-haul routes – are you expecting passenger traffic to grow over the next few years?
We expect passenger numbers to continue to grow over the coming years due the growth potential for both our short-haul and long-haul networks.
What are the latest ongoing airport development projects taking place at Manchester and how are you going to meet higher passenger numbers in future?
We’re in the process of a really exciting £1bn development at Manchester Airport. Terminal 2 will more than double in size to cope with future demand.
The project will introduce the latest in technology with two new security halls, self-service check-in facilities and state of the art services as well as up to 60 new retail and food & beverage outlets giving our passengers and airline customers a world class airport.
By summer 2019 passengers will be using the first new pier and link to the existing terminal, whilst the full terminal extension is scheduled to open in 2020.