Updated: Friday, 6th December 2019 @ 8:37pm

Manchester's role as global 'cultural centre' lands airport regular routes with Saudi Arabian airline flynas

Manchester's role as global 'cultural centre' lands airport regular routes with Saudi Arabian airline flynas

| By Tim Hyde

Manchester’s role as one of the world’s ‘cultural centres’ has prompted a Saudi Arabian airline to launch regular routes to and from the city.

Manchester will receive a major economic boost when the only privately-funded airline in Saudi Arabia, flynas, launches flights from Jeddah to Manchester Airport from May 2.

Manchester Airport is already considered the global gateway for the north and has the largest airport outside London providing more than 200 destinations.

Last year, flynas handled 3.3million passengers, but hopes to grow to five million in 2014 after adding a frequent service from the UK.

Raja Azmi, flynas CEO, said: “Manchester is definitely becoming a major city on a global scale and not just because of the football teams. It is an important city to countries all over Asia and the Middle East. It has become a cultural centre.”

DEAL: Mr Raja Azmi, CEO flynas; Mr Sulaiman Al Hamdan, CEO NAS Holding and Charlie Cornish, CEO Manchester Airport Group 

Last year the airport saw a 5.2% increase in its passenger figures and reached the 20million mark for the first time since 2007.

Flynas airline will operate three flights-a-week from Manchester and London, with the first flights costing as low as £166.

One of the main factors that drew flynas attention to Manchester is the city’s large Saudi student population which the country’s embassy claims is more than 17,000.

Manchester has also been chosen because the city has picked up a reputation for a being a well respected multicultural destination – which many Saudis love to visit.

The low-cost airline has invested heavily in a frequent air service from Manchester to the Middle East which will result in flynas dominating the route.

Mr Azmi said: “The expansion of our network to include destinations that are seen as high-growth markets is a key element of our strategy to lead the airline into a new chapter of aggressive development.

“We have an aggressive and ambitious long term plan to dominate the route to Saudi Arabia as we hope to have 20million passengers using out airlines by 2020.

“Manchester continues to feature as one of Saudi Arabia’s most popular outbound destinations especially during summer and key holiday periods.”

Flynas now operates 27 aircrafts but has serious plans to expand to 60 aircrafts by 2020 as well as increasing the frequency of flights between the Middle East and Manchester.

Andrew Cowan, Chief Operating Officer at Manchester Airport Group, said: “We are extremely honoured to welcome flynas to Manchester. It is fair to say that Manchester is a key region as the city already has a large population flying to Jeddah.

“We believe that Manchester is a gateway to the North and has as Manchester has a high Saudi student population it will strengthen the links between Saudi Arabia and Manchester.”

Main image courtesy of Kuster Wildhaber Photography, with thanks.