Manchester Airport delivers major boost to North with new Mumbai connection

Andrew Cowan, left, and Marnix Fruitema (Jet Airways) launch the new link

The launch of new direct flights to Mumbai, India’s economic capital, is set to deliver a £400m boost to the North.

Jet Airways’ five-times-a-week service takes off for the first time this morning, (November 5), at a celebration attended by Aviation Minister, Baroness Liz Sugg and hundreds of guests from across the region.

The route will unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of trade, investment and tourism benefits, according to a report released to coincide with the launch.

It follows a sustained push from Manchester Airport and regional partners to establish the first link between the North of England and Mumbai, driven by the increasing economic ties between the two regions and increasingly strong demand to travel between them.

The study, called The Northern Powerhouse and India: Unlocking the Opportunity, predicts an economic boost to the North of at least £400m in the next five years.

It describes the North as the “ideal collaborator” with India, with its strengths in areas like digital, advanced manufacturing and energy perfectly aligning with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic priorities.

Aviation Minister Baroness Liz Sugg said: “Connections like the one being launched today are key to Britain’s economic future and will help to drive economic growth and trade both here in Manchester and right across the North.

“Co-operation, trade and tourism with India is set to grow over the coming years, and we are committed to helping build the links we need now, so that all areas of the UK can be well placed to make the most of that growing relationship.”

Jet Airways will fly from Manchester to Mumbai on a Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will operate on an A330-200, with 254 seats across Première (business) and economy classes.

India is the UK’s seventh largest trade partner in goods outside of Europe and third largest exporter of services to the UK.

Its current economic growth (7-8% per annum) has seen foreign direct investment into the UK create around 6,000 jobs.

That is why securing a direct service was a long-term priority for both Manchester Airport and the region, leading to the formation of an award-winning public/private body, the Manchester India Partnership (MIP), earlier this year.

The MIP was launched in both the UK and India and is chaired by Manchester Airport chief executive Andrew Cowan, who said: “The launch of this service is an important moment for Manchester Airport and the wider region.

“India is one of the world’s most important markets and this route will unlock huge opportunities for economic and cultural collaboration with the North.

“It underlines the importance of direct connectivity, which helps businesses export their goods and services, attracts investors to the UK, and encourages tourism in both directions.

Andrew Cowan

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Jet Airways and all those involved with the Manchester India Partnership for making this long-held ambition a reality.”

Naresh Goyal, chairman of Jet Airways, who joined the inaugural celebrations, said: “We are happy to be the first airline to offer a non-stop, premium service between Mumbai and Manchester.

“The UK is a very important destination for Jet Airways and with the addition of Manchester we hope to make a further contribution to boosting tourism and trade between the two countries.”

Jo Ahmed, partner at Deloitte and member of the Manchester-India partnership, said: “The direct flight between Manchester and Mumbai will provide easier access to one of our most important international markets.

“With the regular rotation of staff between Deloitte offices in Manchester and India, this flight has a direct benefit to our business as well as the clear benefit this direct route will bring to the wider North West economy by opening up a direct trade and investment route.”

Jet announced its Manchester-Mumbai route in May as a four-times-a-week service. Demand has been so strong, the airline increased its frequency to five-times-a-week before it had even launched, with the first flight leaving Manchester fully occupied.

This reflects the powerful role the service will play in facilitating trade, investment and other economic activity between the two locations.

The Unlocking the Opportunity report, published by the Manchester India Partnership, said the route will enable at least £300m of trade and investment benefits, as more Northern businesses start exporting, and a raft of fast-growing Indian firms are encouraged to set up bases here, creating more than 2,000 jobs in the process.

Jet Airways’ flight 9W 130 departed from Mumbai at 0230 hrs (local time) and will arrive in Manchester’s Terminal Two at 0755 hrs (local time).

The return flight, 9W 129 will depart from Manchester at 0935 hrs (local time) and arrive in Mumbai’s Terminal Two at 0040 hrs (local time).