Who's started a 3,000-mile direct service to Manchester using A320neos?!

A Middle Eastern-based carrier has launched a new direct, 3,000-mile service today (May 1) to Manchester using Airbus A320neos! Who is it? Find out here!

Kuwait Airways has started a new thrice-weekly connection to Manchester as of today (May 1), operating Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, using its six-strong contingent of CFM International LEAP-1A-powered Airbus A320neos – featuring both an economy and business class product.

The flights are scheduled to arrive at the UK gateway at 1145hrs local time, before departing exactly an hour later. The maiden service on May 1 was flown by A320neo example, 9K-AKM (c/n 9119), after a 6hrs 35mins sortie from Kuwait City.

Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport is home to a pair of airstrips, the 10,000ft-long Runway 05L/23R and 10,007ft-long 05R/23L Manchester Airports Group

While the move is expected to greatly benefit businesses, tourism organisations along with visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic, university students are of particular importance. For instance, Manchester Airport revealed that around 2,960 Kuwaiti students are currently studying across its catchment area.

Moreover, demand looks promising as before the onset of COVID-19, more than 23,000 travellers annually from Kuwait visited North West England, spending more than £22m. Meanwhile, current statistics show that approximately 49,000 people across the Mancunian gateway’s “vast catchment area” journey indirectly to Kuwait.

Additionally, it’s estimated a further 800,000 travellers from across the North of England head to a plethora of onward destinations on the Kuwait Airways network – such as Bangkok (Thailand), Delhi, Mumbai (both India) and Manila (the Philippines) – that are not connected with Manchester Airport at present.

Kuwait Airways A320neo
Kuwait Airways fielded a six-strong contingent of CFM International LEAP-1A-powered Airbus A320neos at the time of writing Airbus/David Velupillai

Ian Costigan, interim managing director at Manchester Airport, said: “It’s great news that Kuwait Airways is starting direct flights from Manchester Airport, and I am sure it will be incredibly well-received by the thousands of people in our catchment area that travel there indirectly each year.

“The announcement of another long-haul route coming to Manchester clearly shows the role we play in connecting the North to key global destinations. Not only do routes like these make travel easier, but they put the region on the international map for trade, economic and tourism opportunities, plus create a wealth of jobs in the process.

“I look forward to welcoming the team from Kuwait Airways to the airport and wish them every success with the route,” he added.

Maen Razouqi, Kuwait Airways chief executive officer, added: “Manchester as a destination is of great importance to Kuwait Airways’ customers. The selection came after an increased demand for it as a distinct destination for tourists, especially in the summer season, which is expected to witness an unprecedented boom in the tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors. In addition, the launching of Manchester as a destination in KAC’s [Kuwait Airways Corporation] network will assist a large segment of students to study abroad in Universities in Manchester and in England…”

The latest development sees Manchester become Kuwait Airways’ second destination. This follows London/Heathrow which, according to routesonline, is currently plied 12-weekly by the firm’s Boeing 777-300ERs at the time of writing.