Air India is considering starting direct flights from Manchester to India a high profile conference at Manchester Town Hall has heard.

The suggestion, by a senior representative of Air India, during a question and answer session was immediately seized upon by Manchester Inward Investment Agency (MIDAS) CEO Tim Newns who urged the audience to throw their weight behind the move. The representative said Air India is adding a new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Manchester could be one new route to benefit from its expansion.

Presently Manchester, the prime airport hub for the North of England, only flies to Goa the ‘Make in India, Innovate with Manchester’ event heard, a point highlighted to the audience by Greater Manchester Mayor Tony Lloyd.  As a result, most businesses in the region, travelling to India, are having to disrupt their journeys with stop overs in hubs like Dubai.

Talking exclusively to IndiaGBnews.com Tim Newns said:

“Improving connectivity will be crucial to cementing this relationship so it is fantastic that direct flights between India and Manchester are being explored, further demonstrating our commitment to fostering bilateral trade.

“Working in collaboration and forging stronger ties will help the Indian government’s economic growth policy, as well as helping to achieve Greater Manchester’s international ambitions.”

Elsewhere the conference heard how Manchester could go head to head with London to attract investment from India drawn in part by its 53,000 residents of Indian origin, but commentators cautioned despite Manchester’s growing profile in India it remained in the shadow of London.

Professor Luke Georghio, vice president research and innovation at the University of Manchester, said there is a task to inform India of Manchester.

“The bulk of the production industry is in the North not London,” he said. “We can offer affordable housing and great connectivity. In London workers spend 65pc of salary on housing whereas Manchester workers spend on average 24pc.”

Tim Newns added:

“Greater Manchester is a connected region and is able to build on its strong scientific, innovation and manufacturing heritage. It is a gateway to the north of England and Make in India, Innovate with Manchester highlighted significant collaborative opportunities between our businesses and educational establishments and organisations in India. We have an industrious and innovative past and future, and will continue to raise our profile in India, one of our key markets, with the aim of developing long-term relationships through sharing technology, education and expertise.

The ‘Make in India, Innovate with Manchester’ event organised by Midas and the High Commission of India and aimed to position Manchester as an ideal partner to help support India’s economic development.

l-r panel Prof Luke Georghiou_Jo Ahmed_Shuchita Sonalika_Nigel Mellors

Key speakers at Make in India, Innovate with Manchester also included Shuchita Sonalika, of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Professor Nigel Mellors from Salford University, Jo Ahmed of Deloitte and Bhupendra Nagar of HCL Technologies. Other companies attending the event included Slater Heelis, Manchester Airport, Bank of India, the University of Bolton, Polaris Media, Equitus Engineering, CoGlobe Consulting  and Pennington Manches.


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