For a small island nation like Britain, I think it is universally agreed that it would be unlikely for the country to have other cities with similar international significance. Even as late as last week I would have agreed with this view, but then I began to study developments in one of Britain's most important cities...Manchester!
Like Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham, Manchester was one of quartet of British cities outside London that were the world's most wealthiest and arguably the most envied in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But with the decline of Britain as a whole in the late 20th century, these cities were forgotten and lost there international appeal and more importantly, their economic power.
In terms of aviation, Manchester is probably nowhere near as lucrative or attractive as London for airlines. British Airways have continually cut services and have just sold their regional operation to a LCC carrier; non - London services just don't fit into their business plan. BMI have longhaul services from MAN, but once LHR is opened up after Open Skies, it is well known that BD will cut and run from Manchester. My question is, are these airlines making a mistake?
I ask this because I have just finished looking at present and future plans for developing Manchester and all I can say is wow! The city is really on the move and by 2011 it will one of Europe's most important cities! I feel these types of developments, particularly economic will give a huge boost to Manchester's aviation industry. For airlines like British Airways who chase the high yielding business passengers, I think their decision to abandon Manchester may prove to be a bad one in the long term. Please read my reasons below:
1. The development of Manchester into an international Media City
Below are the plans for the development of a multi-million, international 24 hour media city in Salford, Manchester, which is being aimed to rival the world's other media cities! It was just approved 2 weeks ago! The BBC is going to set up its main media complex in the media city (called Media City UK), making Manchester its most important media base outside London with 50% of its London staff relocating to Manchester! Numerous international news agencies are touted to move to Manchester and it is expected that Media City UK will deliver:
- £1.5bn to the regional economy.
- Employment opportunities for 15,500 people.
- 700,000 sq m (over 7m sq ft) of new and refurbished floorspace for business, retail and residential property.
- 1,500 trainee posts per year.
- Space for 1,150 creative and related businesses.
- The creation of over £225m per annum in additional net value added.
- Influx of journalists and media specialists from around the world.
- An international reputation for excellence in media and creative industries!
If you watch the two videos below and look at the construction plans, it is clear Manchester will become an important city. These plans are already being described by BBC executives as a "compelling vision" and a leap into the future "of global significance".
2. The rise of Manchester's Economy and Business Infrastructure
- According to national statistics, Manchester's economy is growing faster and out-striping that of the rest of the UK.
- Voted the best city for business in 2006 by Britain's Business Survey.
- Home to the fastest growing law firm in Britain.
- Recent significant investments by Bank of New York, RBS, Deloitte, Kleinwort Benson, Barclaycard and AIG - all of these companies have a presence and operations in Manchester's Business district.
- The development of a £265m supercasino complex - the only one in the UK!
- The development of Spinningfields -a world class business district. Construction is underway and Manchester is set to have the following award winning buildings! For example, 1 Hardman Square is currently in the planning process and it looks wonderful:
With all these developments and the desire of Manchester City Council to make the city the next 'Frankfurt', it is clear Manchester is a city going places. With international journalists, media specialists and a growing number of business travellers making their way to Manchester, shouldn't airlines like British Airways strengthen their position in MAN for the long term? For example Media City UK was only given the go-ahead 2 weeks ago and it seems further announcements of developing the economy are likely - it is public knowledge that Manchester is actively seeking to attract another world class financial company to the city! In the short term, Manchester may continue to be the low yielding city, but what about in 2011, when Media City UK has been developed, the Supercasino is open for business and Spinningfields is completed? All of this will be on top of Manchester's current status as a city home to two of the richest football clubs in the world and bags of cultural and academic heritage!
In my view, developments in Manchester will only strengthen the air travel market of the city and has the potential to increase the amount of high yielding passengers. In my view, no other city in the UK is growing in importance as Manchester is. What do you think? Is Manchester on the rise and should airlines be exploiting the city's rise in significance?