Business leaders from Scotland say a new direct flight from Manchester to Houston will deliver a major boost to the country.
Both parts of the world have strengths in sectors that will be key to driving growth in the region in the years to come, such as energy, life sciences and financial services.
Currently, more than 60,000 people from Scotland fly to Texas every year but have to travel indirectly via London or other overseas hubs.
Singapore Airlines will start flying direct from Manchester Airport to Houston from October 30 2016. It is the first ever direct service from the North to Houston and will be Singapore Airlines’ first ever transatlantic service in the UK.
A host of business groups, as well as individual companies, have all praised the new service and believe it is a massive benefit to the region and will unlock new business, investment and tourism opportunities for the region.
Paul Rushton, managing director of oil and gas engineering business Magma Products, said:
“In our business we always have to think global. That’s why international connections are crucial – connections that enable us to develop new relationships, pitch for projects and win new contracts.
“Direct flights between Manchester and Houston represent a welcome new option for ambitious businesses, particularly energy-focused companies in Aberdeen and the north-east of England.
“Houston is one of the world’s key energy hubs and this new link can only be a strategic gain. I wish Manchester Airport and Singapore Airlines every success with the new route.”
Rupert Hare, Chief Executive Officer of Houlder Ltd said:
“Working in the offshore Oil & Gas market, Houlder is aware of key strategic links between Houston, Scotland and the North of England. We’ve been frequent flyers for many years and welcome a scheduled service from Manchester. It will give us more options and save time and money in the years to come.”
Craig Dillard, Partner at SABA (Scottish American Business Alliance) Houston said:
“Although the similarities and business connections between Houston and the United Kingdom are vast, travel between the two can often be an obstacle — particularly when traveling to Scotland or Northern England. When traveling for business, the old adage “time is money” is particularly appropriate.
“At SABA we are constantly looking for ways to assist international companies from Scotland and the U.K. set up and do business in the United States. We recognize that nonstop flights create a direct link for businesses and open the path for growing businesses abroad as it allows companies to be competitive in a larger market.
“The new direct route from Manchester to Houston opens up Northern England and Scotland to the City of Houston, and vice versa. In addition to traveling across for the Offshore Technology Conference in May, this direct connection will make it easier to get to and do business with the companies in Houston and create new opportunities for the companies currently operating in northern England and Scotland”.
Ken O’Toole, Manchester Airport CEO, said: “The launch of Singapore Airlines’ service to Houston is another significant milestone for Manchester Airport. It will become the airport’s 13th US destination with the 14th set to open next year when flights to San Francisco commence.
“Once again it will be another direct route that is unavailable anywhere else in the UK outside of London. We understand how important direct access to key markets like the US is to stimulating trade and tourism for regions across the North and Scotland.”
Sheldon Hee, Singapore Airlines, General Manager of UK & Ireland said:
“We’re excited to launch our non-stop services to Houston and Singapore from Manchester. This five times weekly service is part of our commitment to growth in Manchester and will provide businesses with the most direct route to Texas and the growing markets of Asia via Singapore. Business travellers with busy schedules can look forward to flat beds and the widest seats in the sky for a restful flight, while our on-board Wi-Fi ensures that customers stay up to date throughout their journey if they need to.”
Singapore Airlines will operate a 777-300 on both routes with first, business and economy cabins available. Business Class passengers will enjoy 51” seat pitch which converts into a 76” long bed with the option to pre-book exquisite meals. Economy fares start from £415* with Business Class from £2,385* if booked before the 31 October with travel until June 2017.