Manchester was one of many routes that saw its direct connection to India disappear with Jet Airways’ collapse. Now, nearly a year after the collapse, no airline has added the route, so will any of them do so?
An interesting route
While, on paper, Manchester seems like just another major city in the UK, there is something unique about it. The city is serviced by airlines from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, the US, and many more. Manchester Airport is the third-largest in the UK by passenger traffic, and sees more international airlines than Gatwick.
The reason Manchester is such a popular destination is due to the demographics of the region. The Manchester region is home to the largest proportion of Asian-British anywhere in the UK, meaning there is frequent traffic in and out of many of these Asian countries to Manchester and surrounding cities. Seeing this, it is unsurprising why carriers like Biman Bangladesh and Pakistan International Airlines fly to the city year-round.
With high passenger traffic between the routes, peaking during the summertime, it is quite surprising that any Indian carrier has not picked up where Jet Airways left off.
Who could take up the mantle?
As of now, there is only one carrier that could fly this route: Air India. This is because India has no other international, long-haul airline in the market. This means that Air India is the only chance that one has. However, Air India with its current financial situation and its long-haul fleet already tied up in other destinations means there is very little probability of this route coming anytime soon. Air India also doesn’t seem to have much appetite for the route, seeing that it just added a service to London Stansted last month.
All of this could change with the entry of Dreamliners into Vistara’s fleet this month. Vistara is currently negotiating for slots in London along with other international airports. If Vistara thinks there is enough demand, it may choose to deploy one of its six incoming 787s to fly this route. The route also has no competition currently, meaning that Vistara will have a virtual monopoly over this large market, this is compared to other cities like London which already see three airlines servicing it.
Is there any hope at all?
While things do like quite bleak for Manchester at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising if either Air India or Vistara decide to change their minds. The route has currently been dominated by the three Middle East carriers and, to a smaller extent, by some European carriers. Still, there is definitely a need for a direct service from India.
Manchester’s demographics have made it a unique destination. Carriers from Beijing to Dhaka fly to the airport and traffic is only set to increase over the next few years. While it may not have a direct service from India right now, it definitely has the potential for one soon.