Thomas Cook Airlines’ first flight to Los Angeles took off from Manchester yesterday.

The twice-weekly flights represent the only direct service to the US west coast city outside of London, according to the airport.

Celebrity chef James Martin, creator of the carrier’s in-flight meals, joined the flight with his development chefs to do a taste test at 35,000ft.

Thomas Cook chief airlines and hotels officer, Christoph Debus, said: “This is such an amazing day for our customers and our airline. We’ve invested £100 million in upgraded interiors and have a stunning new long-haul fleet, which is matched by James Martin’s fantastic new menu.

“We are the largest long-haul carrier from Manchester airport and offer the best US leisure destinations for holidaymakers in the north-west and will keep putting our customers at the heart of everything we do.”

Manchester airport commercial director, Stephen Turner, added: “This route makes Manchester the only UK airport outside of London to offer a direct service to LA and offers our 23.5 million annual passengers easy access to the west coast of the USA. 

“Furthermore it showcases the role Manchester airport plays in UK aviation, offering a wealth of long-haul destinations, which no other UK airport outside of London has.”

Economy fares start at £399.98 return and £699.99 for premium class, with departures on Mondays and Saturdays.