The Northern Powerhouse looks to India

A new direct flight between Manchester and Mumbai signals a drive towards greater trade and tourism integration. 

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Jet Airways has established a new direct route between Manchester and Mumbai. The service will run five times a week, and is expected to support up to 2,000 jobs and “unlock” up to £400m in GDP for the North over five years, according to The Northern Powerhouse and India: Unlocking the Opportunity – a report that was published to coincide with the route launch.

Chief executive of Manchester Airport Andrew Cowan stated in the report that the fact that over 200,000 people of Indian origin live in the North and it is home to over 100 Indian businesses shows that the region can “more than sustain” a direct air route to India. “As more people travel between two places,” he argued, “awareness of what makes them good places to visit and do business with is raised considerably.”

In an interview with Insider, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse Jake Berry called the service a “new gateway” that will “deepen relations between our two countries currently worth £18bn for the North”. He cited the recent example of direct flights between Manchester and Beijing, claiming that “levels of growth in trade, tourism and knowledge exchange between the North and the Far East” are now “outstripping” national averages.

Amongst the key areas of growth that were highlighted, the report argued that the already rising number of Indian students studying in the North could be increased further, which could contribute an extra £20m in GDP. Additionally, supporters of the route are confident more Indian tourists will now choose the North for their holiday – one particular event that may attract high numbers of visitors is an India vs Pakistan cricket match which will take place at Old Trafford in Manchester during the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

With Brexit fast approaching, Berry said that “strengthening the UK's economic ties to India as we prepare to leave the European Union is a priority for the government”.

Jake Berry will be speaking at the New Statesman’s upcoming Northern Powerhouse conference on 27 February in Leeds, along with many other Northern leaders and politicians. To find out more and purchase a ticket, click here.  

Augusta Riddy is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman.