Manchester yesterday gained new access to Africa as Ethiopian Airlines started flights from the north-west gateway.
The four times a week service to Addis Ababa will leave the UK’s third largest airport 100% full and provide more than 60 connections across Africa.
The direct air link is set to benefit 400,000 people across the north of England who currently access Africa via other means.
Ethiopian Airlines is deploying a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route with business and economy classes. The service to Addis Ababa will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Return economy fares start at £499 with business class from £1,999.
Connections across Africa available from the Ethiopian capital include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.
Manchester airport CEO Andrew Cowan said: “We’re delighted to have Ethiopian Airlines launching its service to Addis Ababa. It will provide a vital route into Africa for businesses across the north, as well as helping attract visitors and potential investors to the region.
“This route highlights the important role Manchester Airport continues to play in connecting the North with key global markets.”
The airline’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam added: “We are elated to start our service to Manchester, our second destination in the UK next to London Heathrow which we have been serving since 1973.
“The socio-economic implication of the new flight is immense. With vast investment and trade potentials between Africa and the UK, the flight holds the promise of boosting trade, investment and tourism with ample business opportunities for investors and business people from both regions.”
VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “Growing airline connectivity, route development and seat capacity into key regional gateways such as Manchester are crucial to our competitive tourism offer, with the new Ethiopian Airlines flights making it easier for visitors to travel here, explore further and stay longer, boosting the economy.”
Meanwhile, MAG, which operates Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports and employs over 6,000 people in the UK, is to join Heathrow in offer to fund its employees’ applications to acquired ‘settled status’ after Brexit.
The airport group, which employs more than 400 people born in EU countries as part of its 6,000-strong workforce, will cover the cost of the £65 application.
The move is designed to give reassurance and comfort to EU staff, according to the airports group which handles 60 million passengers a year.
EU-born employees have a variety of roles across the company, including in aviation security, passenger assistance, retail as well as head office jobs.
MAG chief strategy officer Tim Hawkins said: “We know how important it is for all our colleagues – to have reassurance and certainty that they will be able to continue to live in the UK and work at the airport when the UK leaves the EU.
“We are therefore committing to support MAG colleagues from other EU countries by offering to pay any application fees that they incur as they apply for settled status in the UK.”