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Manchester is to gain its first direct air link with San Francisco as the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is connected to the Silicon Valley.
Virgin Atlantic is to serve the US west coast city together with flights to Boston as it expands its transatlantic network from Manchester airport for summer 2017.
Access to the long-haul carrier’s routes is also being enhanced with a new codeshare deal with Flybe from April 2.
This will see travellers from 18 UK and European airports being able to book tickets on Virgin Atlantic’s website to connect onto long-haul flights at Manchester, Glasgow or Gatwick airport.
The partnership with the regional carrier aims to provide seamless connections between Flybe and Virgin Atlantic with passengers able to check themselves and their luggage through to their final destination.
Manchester airport managing director, Ken O’Toole, said: “Securing the first ever direct flight between Manchester and San Francisco is a significant moment for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, it gives the 22 million passengers living within two hours of Manchester airport yet another great long haul destination to choose from and it is sure to prove popular with leisure travellers.
“Secondly, it will deliver a deliver a real boost to the north’s economy by providing a direct link to the world’s leading location for tech and biomedical start-ups, which is now home to some of the biggest brands on the planet, like Google, Twitter and Uber.
“It is also pleasing to see Virgin announce a direct route to Boston, as well as increased frequency on its existing Barbados service and a code share agreement with Flybe.
“This will mean passengers from across the UK and Europe will be able to connect onto Virgin long haul flights at Manchester airport, cementing its position as the north of England’s main gateway to the world.”
Virgin Atlantic executive vice president of commercial, Erik Varwijk, added: “In addition to our current services to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Orlando and Barbados, the new routes to San Francisco and Boston really open up America for our customers.
“This year marks 20 years of our first ever flight from Manchester and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to offer our unique experience on routes where our customers are looking to fly.”
He added: “Our partnership with Flybe offers us a fantastic opportunity to reach customers looking to travel long haul from key cities throughout the UK and Europe.”
Flybe chief revenue officer, Vincent Hodder, said: “We are delighted to offer our UK and European customers such a host of exciting global travel options through this new partnership with Virgin Atlantic.
“It reinforces our commitment to providing a ‘one stop to the world’ service enabling Flybe passengers to make seamless onward connections from their own local regional airport to such sought-after destinations as Barbados, Orlando, Havana and Las Vegas via Glasgow, Manchester and Gatwick airports.”
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