Manchester airport launched its first direct route into sub-Saharan Africa this week with a series of promotional fares.
The new Ethiopian Airlines flight offers travellers onward connections to 58 other destinations via its increasingly busy hub at Addis Ababa.
To promote the routes, flights to the Seychelles, Kilimanjaro and Cape Town are available from £458, £405 and £452 respectively.
The fares are available on bookings made before December 15 for travel between December 28 and June 30.
Michael Yohannes, Ethiopian Airlines UK country manager, said: “Along with the 10 existing flights from Heathrow, inauguration of a four-weekly Manchester service makes Africa even more accessible along with some excellent connectivity to and from UK regional airports in conjunction with Flybe, particularly Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
Yohannes said travellers will be able to make further connections across the continent through Addis Ababa airport, which has just overtaken Dubai as Africa’s busiest region.
He added: “We wanted to launch it a year ago, but because we had so many different launches, we didn’t have enough aircraft. It is timely. All our Heathrow flights are full and we see people connecting from the north. The load factor for December is very high and goes into January and February.”
Manchester airport aviation director Julian Carr agreed the new route has countrywide potential, as opposed to just benefiting those living in the north.
“We sense there’s a lot of business here,” he said. “One of the key things we have heard already is there’s quite a bit of traffic coming out from Jersey and connecting on to it.”
Carr was also convinced travellers would take the opportunity to use the Ethiopian hub to travel further.
“We don’t have anything direct to South Africa,” he said. “It has an indirect market of about 100,000 people here that can be served through Ethiopian Airlines.”
He added that to further drive the flight launch, agents would receive a £25 bonus for each business class booking and £10 for each leisure travel booking made until January 31 on travel from January 1 to May 31.