Manchester Airport sees Thomson Airways' launch of Boeing 787 services from the northwest as a sign its campaign to draw long-haul traffic from Heathrow is succeeding.
Thomson flew its first 787 into Manchester on Friday and a second arrived on Saturday.
Manchester Airport chief operating officer Andrew Cowan said: "It's hugely exciting that Thomson chose Manchester to launch the 787.
"It plays to our ability to get more people to fly long haul from Manchester. We expect other carriers to come in with the 787 in time."
Cowan said: "Four million passengers in this region fly long haul from Heathrow and we are focused on trying to get them to fly from Manchester.
"We fly to as many destinations as Heathrow. We would be delighted if airlines had the appetite to serve the same long-haul destinations from Manchester as Heathrow."
He added: "We operate at 50% of our capacity, which could be 50 million passengers a year."
Manchester will feed evidence of its potential to the Davies Commission on hub capacity in the southeast.
However, Cowan said: "We will continue our growth plans irrespective [of the Commission]. We expect to grow by one million passengers a year over the next five years.
"We want to keep growing on all fronts and increase our destinations. We're keen to get a route to mainland China and are working hard on that.
"Whatever happens in the southeast, we have 24 million people and 60% of UK businesses within two hours of Manchester."
Egyptair began services between Manchester and Cairo on Saturday.
Thomson will launch its Dreamliner long-haul programme from Manchester and Glasgow to Florida and Cancun on July 8.
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