Businesses leaders from across the North West have come together to emphasise the potential benefits that could stem from the region’s new air link with India.
Yesterday’s inaugural Jet Airways flight from Manchester to Mumbai marked the launch of a five-days-a-week service between the two cities. It’s expected that as many as 130,000 passengers a year could make use of the new route, unlocking £400m of economic benefits over the next five years.
Sreeram Venkateswaran, chief executive of Manchester-based Indian-owned firm Hero Cycles, the world’s biggest bicycle manufacturer, highlighted how the new route could support the flow of skills and talent between India and the UK.
He said: “Manchester operations are very significant to the Group’s overall growth objectives. With significant investments here, intend to strengthen the operations out of Manchester with close working with our Indian Operations.
“Connectivity is the key to this knowledge and skill exchange. Direct flights from Manchester to India will definitely help in the easier flow of talent and ideas will have significant benefits to our business.”
There was dancing, singing and even a cake ahead of yesterday morning’s flight, with hundreds of business representatives, dignitaries and guests in attendance, including aviation minister, Baroness Liz Sugg.
“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,” said Baroness Sugg.
“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.”
Andrew Cowan, Manchester Airport chief executive and chairman of the Manchester India Partnership, added: “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.”
Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, said the launch marked the beginning of a new era in increased business opportunities between India and the North of England.
Jo Ahmed, Partner at Deloitte, said the air link would bring a direct benefit to the business by supporting the regular rotation of staff between Deloitte offices in Manchester and India.
Ash Pandey of Indian IT firm Tech Mahindra, which opened new offices in Salford Quays at the start of April, said the new service would cut journey times for its staff travelling between India and Manchester.
He said: “TechM has recently made a six figure investment in North so we are very excited and looking forward to create more opportunities by working with innovate start-ups, public institutions like universities and councils. This creates a new set of opportunities to have frequent travel between Manchester and India.”
Brian Holliday, managing director Siemens Digital Factory, hailed the new connection as “a really positive step”, while Manish Bansal, CFO & director at Welspun UK Ltd, said its importance could not be underestimated.
Main image: Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan and Jet Airways executive vice-president Marnix Fruitema launch the new Mumbai flight. ©Manchester Airport Group