Delhi Delight as Manchester Airport secures direct route to Indian capital

  • Route set to benefit 180,000 people from airport’s vast catchment area who currently travel to Delhi indirectly
  • Direct route with Virgin Atlantic will fly three times a week from 26th October
  • News welcomed by business and civic dignitaries as High Commissioner visits Manchester
  • Tourism benefit predicted for the North as UK is the second most popular long-haul destination for Indian visitors
  • Return Economy fares start from £496 per person and from £2,315 for Upper Class (business)

The North’s ties with one of the world’s most important economies have been significantly strengthened by news Manchester Airport has secured a direct service to Delhi, the capital of India.

Virgin Atlantic will fly from the UK’s Northern gateway to Delhi three times a week, starting on 26th October this year. It will benefit the 500,000 people of Indian origin living across the North of the UK, as well as being tipped to unlock a wide range of economic and cultural opportunities.

The route is the latest addition to Virgin’s growing long-haul network from Manchester, and its first travelling east. Its launch reflects the airline’s recognition of the strength of the North’s business and leisure market.

The news has been hailed as a major milestone in Manchester’s relationship with India and comes just more than two years after the Manchester India Partnership (MIP) was set up to forge closer to links between the two places.

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport and Chair of the Manchester India Partnership, said:

“Securing a direct service to one of India’s major cities is the product of a lot of hard work over a long period of time to forge closer ties between Manchester and this globally significant economy.

“I am delighted Virgin Atlantic has recognised this by launching what I’m sure will be a hugely popular service, not least for the 500,000 people of Indian origin living across the North.

“Our Aviation team has worked closely with the airline to create a compelling case for why our city – and the wider North – is a great place to visit, invest in and do business with. Virgin Atlantic is a key partner for Manchester Airport and this new route to Delhi is in addition to continued growth in recent years for the airline here at the UK’s third biggest airport.

“Direct connectivity to the world’s most important markets is key to creating a prosperous and internationally competitive Northern economy, and a balanced and outward facing UK.

“This route will deliver a major boost to businesses looking to export to one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, as well as helping to attract Indian visitors and investors to the North.

“We look forward to working with Virgin Atlantic on launching the Delhi service in the months ahead and thank them for their continued growth at Manchester, the UK’s global gateway for the North.”

The Manchester-Delhi service will be operated by an A330-200 aircraft, with Economy, Premium Economy and Upper Class cabins. It will fly on a Monday, Thursday and Saturday, departing Manchester at 16:40 landing the next morning in Delhi at 06:05. The return service, will depart on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday at 08:10 landing back at 12:10.

There are currently 180,000 people a year who fly from Manchester Airport’s catchment area to Delhi, the capital of India and home to is main government functions.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented:

“2020 is an extremely exciting year of continued growth for Virgin Atlantic and increasing our presence out of Manchester is a huge focus for us. Not only are we the headline sponsor of the Manchester Pride Festival but we’re delighted to announce a new service flying three times a week from Manchester to Delhi, additional capacity into Barbados from Manchester as well as a Clubhouse opening this summer. This year will also see Flybe transform into Virgin Connect, and we’re excited to offer customers flying from the north 47 daily flights throughout the UK, Ireland and across Europe.”

“2020 marks our 20th anniversary of flying to India and as the destination continues to grow in popularity for both business and leisure travel, we’re thrilled to fly to Delhi for very first time from Manchester, our home in the North.”

Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS, Greater Manchester’s inward investment agency, said:

“As a founding member of the Manchester India Partnership (MIP), we are delighted to have supported Manchester Airport in reaching this key milestone. Connectivity forms the basis of international relationships and this new route will enable greater collaboration between India and Greater Manchester.

“India has overtaken the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world and is expected to become the third largest by 2025. It is therefore an important market for us, as identified in the Greater Manchester Internationalisation Strategy, and the Manchester-Delhi route will play a crucial role in facilitating stronger ties between the two locations. India is already the third largest investor into the UK and the UK is the fourth most significant investor into India, trends that we hope to further strengthen as a result of greater connectivity and enable Greater Manchester to build upon recent successful investments from Indian companies including Tech Mahindra and L&T Technologies.

“Spearheaded by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, the MIP led a 30-strong delegation to India in October last year, showcasing opportunities for cross-collaboration and innovation between our two regions and we look forward to further progressing identified opportunities and partnerships following the announcement of this direct flight.”

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester said:

“India is an important market for Manchester, and the subcontinent is a significant region of growth responsible for nearly 510,000 outbound visits a year and Indian visitors to the UK spending more than £490m annually.

“This new route launch will allow us to welcome this increasingly growing visitor market to Greater Manchester, positively impacting our region’s growing economy and adding a hugely beneficial link between Manchester and New Delhi with mutual interests in our growing tourism, business, investment and education markets.

“We look forward to further working with Virgin Atlantic, who have shown confidence in Manchester as an international visitor destination through the increase in capacity of its other routes, and the scheduled opening of the first Virgin Clubhouse outside of London at Manchester Airport.”

Virgin Atlantic has grown strongly at Manchester Airport in recent years. In addition to new flights to Delhi the carrier has also launched Los Angeles last year and in the summer, as part of the airport’s £1bn transformation, will open a Clubhouse in the new terminal.

The news comes as today Manchester welcomed the UK High Commissioner to India, Sir Phillip Barton. He was due to meet members of the MIP board and visit the likes of Manchester City Football Club, the University of Salford and MediaCityUK.

It is the latest milestone in the North’s relationship with India. Last year, Greater Manchester played host to the India vs Pakistan ICC Cricket World Cup fixtures, one of the most watches sporting games of all time.

That was followed by the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Ghandi in Manchester City Centre.

In the two years since the MIP was founded, there have been a series of trade and cultural delegations travelling in both directions, with a number of Indian businesses establishing bases in the region.

Just last week, Lancashire County Cricket Club held its pre-season tour in India, while the Universities of Bolton and Salford have also set up partnerships with Indian institutions over the past two years.

Flights go on sale from 3rd March, for more information see: www.manchesterairport.co.uk / www.virginatlantic.com