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Manchester to San Francisco route takes off as Virgin Atlantic launch inaugural flight of new service

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 29/03/2017 Charlotte Cox
Credits: Manchester Evening News © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Manchester Evening News

The Man-Fran super-commuter is now officially a thing after the launch of the city’s first flight to San Francisco.

The new Virgin Atlantic service will get passengers across the pond in 11 hours, 20 minutes - as opposed to the current 14-hour journey via Heathrow.

That’s brought Google, Apple and Facebook that much closer. And the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as a buzzing nightlife are now a leap across the pond, too.

Credits: Manchester Evening News © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Manchester Evening News

Christening the new commuter trend as ‘Man-Fran’, experts say Manchester’s first flight to Northern California will have a huge impact on our culture and business.

Arguably, these are cities born to bond - with tram networks, a passion for music, thriving LBGT and art scenes and of course their flourishing tech industries.

And the champagne flowed as a dynamic delegation of tech business leaders from the north boarded the inaugural flight.

Credits: Manchester Evening News © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Manchester Evening News

At Silicon Valley, they will meet with bosses of universities, tech giants and funding communities.

Greg Hands, international trade minister, told the M.E.N: “This flight is incredibly important for the tech sector here. Attracting US investment to the Northern Powerhouse is vital.

“Investors won’t always be as interested if they can’t get to the place they are investing in so this connectivity will be incredibly important in a post-Brexit era as well.”

He said he didn’t believe the popularity of US destinations had fallen in the wake of Trump’s election, and denied there was reluctance from international airlines to launch new routes due to uncertainty over national aviation policy in the wake of Brexit.

Bosses across Greater Manchester have heralded the new route too.

Odi Birkett, a partner at Deloitte in the North West, said the connection would attract long-term investment.

James Blake, CEO at Hello Soda: “We decided to open a North American office after just a few years. It’s a market that many tech companies will want to attack and this additional connectivity is great news for Manchester, and the wider Northern Powerhouse.”

And Professor Stephen Flint, Associate Vice-President for Internationalisation at The University of Manchester, added: “Direct flights to San Francisco will further increase transport options for the student exchanges we have in place with the University of California and our research ties to Stanford University. Having increased access to another major city in the US means that creating new partnerships and exchanges now becomes that much more practical for the University.”

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic boss, said new services - including a Boston flight launched today/tomorrow (WED) and a JFK route in May - marked their biggest ever route expansion in their 20 years at Manchester.

He said Trump’s election had not hit the popularity of their flights, adding: “We have not seen that and we take note of passenger demand - less so of politics.”

Charlie Cornish, MAG CEO said: “The fact so many businesses from all parts of the North are joining the trade mission is testament to the role the private sector is playing in realising the Northern Powerhouse vision and I wish them all every success out in Silicon Valley.”

He said it showed how direct routes to key markets could drive success - and how pivotal Manchester Airport is to national aviation policy.

Thomas Cook will also fly to San Francisco, from May.

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