British Airways Could Launch Long-Haul Flights From Manchester

If you live in the UK and are loyal to British Airways you’ll know that the airline frustratingly flies almost all of its international flights out of its London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, City). However, there’s now an unsubstantiated rumor circulating that the carrier wants to begin long-haul service out of Manchester. Intriguing…

Could British Airways be flying its 787s out of Manchester? Photo: Heathrow Airport

The current situation

British Airways is fairly average when it comes to its network setup. With the UK being a geographically small nation and London airports having great infrastructure, it makes sense to run all long-distance, intercontinental services out of the nation’s largest city. This is less feasible in larger countries like the United States and Canada where multiple hubs are necessary.

However, the Greater Manchester area has a population of around three million inhabitants and it certainly is a large enough population to have demand for certain long-distance services. In fact, other oneworld airlines have realized this – with Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines flying to the English city. Emirates also runs an astounding 20 weekly flights to the city – all using the Airbus A380!

Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook’s absence leaves the opportunity for more market share for British Airways. Photo: Pixabay

With the demise of Thomas Cook, which ran Manchester services to destinations like Barbados, New York and Orlando, there is an opportunity for surviving airlines to fill the gap. In fact, Virgin Atlantic didn’t waste any time with this. It announced in September that it would place extra flights out of Manchester to make up for Thomas Cook’s exit. But in Manchester, British Airways didn’t budge – but Virgin’s moves may be stirring things up.


Virgin territory

In addition to long-haul route expansions out of Manchester, Virgin Atlantic has also announced new Clubhouse and Vroom Lounge facilities at the airport. For its current offerings, the airline flies direct from Manchester to the following intercontinental destinations:

Year-round service to:

  • Atlanta
  • New York JFK
  • Orlando
  • Barbados

Seasonal service to:

  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Boston
Virgin A350
Virgin is bolstering summer capacity from the northeastern UK airport. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

According to God Save the Points and their secret source, British Airways is making moves to compete with Virgin Atlantic in Manchester “because they don’t want Virgin to look good”.

The rumor

Rumor is that British Airways is in the process of launching long-haul services out of Manchester that will utilize the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, where the airline will fly its aircraft is still a big question mark. We would imagine that New York JFK would have sufficient demand for a service and perhaps some of the holiday destinations that Thomas Cook once served as well.

The 787 (especially the smaller -8) makes sense as an initial venture into long-haul services from Manchester. It’s fuel efficiency and fantastic range allow the aircraft to reach far-flung destinations while flying lower numbers of passengers. As demand is confirmed, British Airways would then be able to fly larger aircraft as it sees fit.

We reached out to British Airways, who simply said: “We don’t comment on rumour and speculation.”


We’ll have to wait and see if this rumor has any validity to it. If it becomes reality, and BA is to compete with Virgin, then travelers could be the real winners as fares will become more competitive with the airlines battling it out for market share.

Do you think that this rumor will prove to be true soon? Where would you like to see the airline fly from Manchester?


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I’ve flown between Chicago and Manchester non-stop a few times. Vastly preferable to going through LHR. Traffic is thin, so mainly on 757. A321XLR might work as well.

Ronnie Winter

There are no flights from MAN to anywhere in South America which is odd. So any flights to South America would be nice. Not sure if routes to this part of the world would be profitable from MAN though.


I may be wrong but I’m sure that BA did MAN-JFK and some other routes to America out of Manchester maybe 15-20 years ago when they were competing with BMI.

David Waddell

Singapore Airlines have flown flights from Manchester to Houston for three years or so. Also, in Airbus A350s which are far better than anything Boeing has (more space and quieter). SA’s service is hard to beat and way better than BA (and I am British).


Several of the larger US airports would make a lot of sense for BA from MAN; including JFK, BOS, PHL, ORD, DFW and LAX. Note that I have connections with partner AA in mind from most of these. Easier access to anyplace in the northern part of England or Midlands than you’d get from any London airport. Also Wales.


I hope they bring back the MAN-SEA direct route that Thomas Cook was flying.