Manchester Airport hails US connections as it prepares Seattle route

According to a statement by Manchester Airport, the north of England is better connected to the United States than ever before, leaving it well placed to capitalise on trans-Atlantic economic opportunities.

The US is the UK’s single largest trading partner, accounting for around a fifth of all UK exports, worth more than £100billion in 2016 alone. Of those exports, the majority were services, including travel which is one of the top five British service exports to the US along with telecoms and financial services.

The number of American tourists visiting the UK is also set to grow this year.  According to VisitBritain there will about 4.1m visit from US tourists this year, an increase of 18% on 2016. The North West is the fastest growing region in the UK for American tourists, growing at 21% year on year (Jan-Sept 16 vs Jan-Sept 17).

Fresh data shows the North’s primary international gateway – Manchester Airport – saw the number of passengers travelling across the pond increase by 7% in the past financial year – nearly double the national average.

It is now the sixth largest airport in Europe for passengers travelling to America, with 13 separate routes operating, the most recent to launch in May was Seattle with Thomas Cook Airlines.

It is latest route to be added from Manchester, with the likes of San Francisco, Boston, Houston and Los Angeles having launched in recent years. Manchester is the only airport outside of London to offer such connections.

The growth in US connectivity is helping nurture key sectors, such as tech, life sciences and energy, by connecting the North with global centres of excellence in these fields.

There is no better example of this than the Northern Powerhouse delegation which flew to Boston last month to attend the 2018 Bio Conference with UK Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead. Among the delegation were the North Health Science Alliance and leading academics, including from the University of York and Liverpool, who showcased their knowledge and expertise in research and development.

Having a direct flight from Manchester to Boston is key to connectivity between the Northern Powerhouse and high potential markets in the US, stimulating research and development and driving growth on both sides of the Atlantic in the process.

And this is playing through in data that shows the US accounted for 27% of inward investment projects and 15% of jobs created in Manchester in 2017/18.

The number of American tourists visiting the North West also grew by 21%, the largest growth of all UK regions, aided by the connectivity and a pan-Northern marketing campaign in the States.

Yorkshire, which is also part of Manchester Airport’s vast catchment area saw an 11% growth from USA visitors. The US is the UK’s most valuable inbound visitor market, worth about £3.4 billion (in 2016).

In terms of the most popular routes for Northern travellers, the number one destination is Orlando, followed by New York and Las Vegas, with San Francisco and Boston entering the top 10 this year as new services have been added.

As well as a huge leisure market to the USA, 11% of passengers go on business. The airport’s continued growth across the West and East coasts has unlocked a wealth of economic and trade opportunities in recent years.

A prime example being San Francisco, served by both Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines. When the route launched in 2017 a 30-strong trade tech delegation flew out to Silicon Valley to forge relationships with key US companies.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is the government’s vision for a super-connected, globally-competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector and highly-skilled population ready to take its place on the world stage.

Manchester Airport’s connectivity with the US makes it even easier for Northern companies to do business with their American counterparts and I’m pleased to see Seattle added to the list of direct flight destinations.

“DIT will always support businesses in accessing global opportunities through a wide range of support such as our award-winning export credit agency, UK Export Finance, and our International Trade Advisors.”

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport said:  “Our continued growth to the USA is testament to the fact people want to fly direct from the North, rather than going via other airports.

“It is incredibly pleasing to see that Manchester is above the average growth rate to the USA and our position in Europe is excellent. It cements our position as the hub for the North and the global gateway to the world.

“Our growth is a massive benefit to the entire region, as well as journey time savings, our routes unlock a host of business and economic opportunities, as we plug Manchester into key US cities and destinations.”