Use long haul routes or lose them says Manchester airport

19.6.2009   (Crains)

By Simon Binns

Manchester Airport executives claim the city will lose existing long haul routes
from Manchester Airport if passengers don’t use them enough.

Andrew Harrison, commercial director at Manchester Airport, told a meeting of
business and airline executives at the Concorde Conference Centre at the airport
this week that half of all travellers from the North flying to Dubai drove to
Heathrow rather than fly from Manchester.

Harrison also said the city region should "speak with one voice" when negotiating
with airlines for improved and new routes for Manchester.

"We need to speak with consistency when we are trying to persuade airlines to
give us more services," he said.    "We have got a great story to tell but also
have some of the best kept secrets such as the BBC relocating to Media City and
when you say that to an airline they sit up and take notice."

Harrison said the airport was already considering routes to long haul destinations such as China, Malaysia, Japan,
Boston and Los Angeles.

Malcolm Gresty, director of international relations for MIDAS, said the city
region must remain competitive to maintain and develop links between local operations
and parent companies overseas.

"Air travel is delivering the trade links of the 21st century world economy –
direct flights are the lifeblood of connectivity by attracting business and leisure
tourism," he said.

"We need to retain and grow existing routes to emerging markets and to start new
routes to Malaysia, Japan and China,"
he said. "Our ultimate goal is to make Manchester even greater."

Gresty added there were opportunities for the city to expand links with the Middle
East, building on Manchester City FC’s purchase by the Abu Dhabi United consortium
and its subsequent multi-million pound shirt sponsorship deal with Abu Dhabi airline
Etihad, but said further investment in routes to the Far East was at risk if direct
routes were not started with major emerging economies such as China.

MIDAS chief executive Colin Sinclair said America "continued to be a target"
for new routes and despite the economic downturn, prospects were good "for the
next 12-24 months."