Speaking at the North of England Excellence Awards last week, James Hogan, boss of airline Etihad outlined his plans for expansion at Manchester Airport. He sees Manchester as one of the airline’s anchor sites along with Sydney and New York to connect with destinations in the Middle East, South East Asia, Australasia and China.
Manchester was also successful in securing the airline’s investment in its European call centre, due to open in 2012 and creating 160 jobs.
The airline’s relationship with Manchester includes a 10 year sponsorship deal with Manchester City FC to help fund an 80 acre training facility, offices and a 7,000 seater stadium and to promote the airline’s brand around the world.
Mr Hogan said Manchester beat off "tough competition" from a host of other continental cities when it came to choosing where to locate its European call centre, which will open in 2012, creating 160 jobs.
He added: "We are looking to expand more into Europe and the call centre will be a key part of that. I would not be surprised to see that get to 400 members of staff with three or four years."
Mr Hogan said the signing of a 10-year sponsorship deal with Manchester City, which will help fund a proposed Etihad Campus next to Eastlands, with an 80-acre training facility, offices and a 7,000-seater stadium, was motivated by getting the airline's brand known around the world.
He added: "Everything we do is about return on investment. At the end of the day, this is part of a branding exercise.
"We will have the Etihad Campus, alongside the stadium, and it is about projecting our brand and looking at ways we can work together with Manchester City to do things like work closer with schools to bring soccer into the Gulf and South East Asia."
Mr Hogan said Manchester was one of the first destinations Etihad considered when it launched eight years ago because of its strong base of businesses that export, as well as an "ethnic mix" of travellers who want to travel to visit relatives in the locations to which it flies.