All I can say is, "Are you listening British Airways?".
to who? I suspect BA know more about the economics of running an airline than Prof Begg or members of the Government. And of course, this is what it boils down to. Airlines like BA are operating in a free market and if they thought there was money to be made at MAN, they'd be there like a shot and to assume their lack of medium / long-haul services is due to some parochial bias towards London is frankly nonsense. They like London, and LHR in particular, because they make money out of there. Given half the chance, bmi would be shifting their transatlantic ops there as well.
Therefore, whilst I'm sure Prof Begg's sentiments are shared by many of us, the reality is that many airlines are naturally drawn to the market dynamics of London and LHR, and these dynamics are not replicated at MAN or anywhere else in the UK