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Manchester Airport Looks Forward To New Long-Haul Services In 2017


Manchester Airport's long-haul routes are undergoing significant changes in 2017. The UK's busiest airport outside London will see at least one new airline start schedules, several British carriers start new routes, and two other airlines introduce brand-new aircraft types.

Starting on 1st May, Oman Air is set to start daily flights to Muscat. It's expected that Airbus A330s will be used on the route. The Oman flag carrier only operates six other routes to Europe so this is quite a coup for Manchester to secure this service.


An Oman Air A330-300 landing at London-Heathrow [Nigel Howarth]

Emirates currently serve Manchester three times daily with two A380s and a 777-300ER. From the 1st of January, all three services will be operated by the double-decker Airbuses, offering some 10,000 seats each week to Dubai.

An Emirates A380 landing at Manchester [Nigel Howarth]

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific is to increase its current 4-weekly Boeing 777-300 service to a 5-weekly Airbus A350 operation from June. The overall seat capacity will remain similar, but the extra service will mean more flexibility for travelers to the Asia-Pacific region. Cathay are one of the first operators of Airbus' newest model, the rival to Boeing's 787, and currently, have eight A350-900s in their fleet.

One of Cathay's newest arrivals awaits delivery at the manufacturer's Toulouse delivery center. [Nigel Howarth]

The honor of operating Manchester's first ever A350 schedule goes to Singapore Airlines, who are set to switch their current 777-300 service over on January 17. The flight routes westbound 5 days per week, from Singapore to Manchester and onwards to Houston, before returning the following day.

A Singapore Airlines A350 at Singapore's Changi Airport [Rafal Szczypek]

Also 'upgrading' to newer aircraft are Etihad Airways, who currently fly twice a day with a mixture of A330s and 777s. For one month only in February, they will be using their 787 Dreamliners on the Abu Dhabi-Manchester route, though it's not clear if it will operate once or twice daily.

An Etihad 787-9 landing at Washington-Dulles Airport [Nigel Howarth]

Continuing the 787 them, the UK's Thomson Airways base a number of 'Dreamliners' at Manchester, mainly for leisure routes to the Caribbean and Florida. Their new destination for 2017 will be to Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba, adding to the three cities already served directly.

A Thomson 787-8 departs Manchester for sunny climes. [Nigel Howarth]

Thomas Cook base a number of their A330s at Manchester year-round, and will be flying direct to San Francisco from May 2017. This is part of their ramp-up of US scheduled routes, with New York-JFK and Miami among the currently-served destinations.

A Thomas Cook A330-200 climbs away from Manchester [Nigel Howarth]

Also expanding their A330 operation from the UK's 'Northern Gateway' are Virgin Atlantic, who launch routes to both Boston and San Francisco in March. The two new San Francisco services will be Manchester's first direct link to the city. Earlier in 2016, Thomas Cook started services to Los Angeles, a destination not served for many many years.

A Virgin Atlantic A330 departing London-Heathrow [Nigel Howarth]

One final noteworthy mention is that Kuwait Airways may be starting a Manchester service in 2017. Since it's only speculation at the moment, it's too early to say whether it would be an A330 or 777 operation.

One of Kuwait Airways' Airbus A330s landing at Bangkok [Rafal Szczypek]

Clearly, the coming year is set to cement Manchester's place as one of Europe's major hubs, and I haven't even mentioned the raft of new European routes being opened...

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