Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has selected Manchester as the location for its newest contact centre.
The new centre, which is expected to be operational in 2012, will employ up to 160 people and operate in addition to Etihad’s existing contact centres in Abu Dhabi, India and Australia.
Etihad is currently working with Manchester Airports Group to identify a suitable location on the airport campus for the centre.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our contact centres handle around 2.5 million calls each year, and we expect more than half of these calls to originate from non-Arabic speaking markets by 2012.
“As our network continues to grow, it is increasingly important for us to provide high quality, multilingual assistance for customers who choose to book directly with the airline.
“We looked closely at a range of potential locations in the United Kingdom and Europe, and undertook extensive research to find the location that offered us a population base with the right mix of languages and skill sets, as well as a high quality of telecommunications infrastructure.
“Manchester offered everything we needed, and had the added attraction of having strong, well-established business links with Abu Dhabi – a relationship we look forward to developing further.”
Mr Hogan paid tribute to the Manchester Investment and Development Agency (MIDAS), which had – under the guidance of the Chief Executive Officer of Manchester City Council, Sir Howard Bernstein – made a compelling case for Manchester as a centre of excellence.
“MIDAS will continue to offer support and guidance as we commence recruitment for the centre,” Mr Hogan said.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “It is excellent news that Etihad is to base its European call centre here in Manchester, and we warmly welcome the announcement.
“I’m very grateful for the confidence Etihad is showing in Manchester, a demonstration that we really are leaders in this field and can provide a level of service which is second-to-none. It also shows that Manchester continues to be an attractive investment location for global business.”
Angie Robinson, Chief Executive at MIDAS, said: “MIDAS is delighted that Etihad has chosen Manchester as the home for their new European Contact Centre. This investment, which is set to create 160 jobs for the region, is testament to the strengths of Manchester’s multi-lingual talent pool and its ability to support major pan-European operations. MIDAS worked closely with Etihad to demonstrate why Manchester was the right location for this project and we’re looking forward to continuing to work alongside them as they grow their presence here.”
Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: “Today’s announcement reinforces our belief that Manchester Airport has the facilities to support the growth of airlines like Etihad and alongside their new premium lounge in Terminal 1 and the increased capacity on the Abu Dhabi route, we are delighted to see them continuing their investment in the region. We believe that there are unrivalled opportunities on offer at the airport and we hope to see many more deals of this nature in the future.”
The Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, said: “I am delighted Etihad Airways has chosen Manchester for its first contact centre in Europe and I wish them every success with their investment.
“The UK is the number one destination for contact centres in Europe and today’s announcement is a boost for Manchester. Etihad has chosen Manchester for its international connections, its strong telecommunications and ICT infrastructure as well as its supply of language talent.”
This announcement comes just ahead of Etihad’s 5th anniversary on the Manchester-Abu Dhabi route – the airline commenced operations to Manchester on March 26 2006 – and follows the recent announcement that Etihad increase its frequency to a double daily service operated by A330 aircraft from August 1, 2011.
Etihad’s commitment to Manchester also includes the opening of an Etihad premium lounge at Manchester Airport in December 2010 – one of only four lounges outside its home base of Abu Dhabi, and the shirt sponsorship of the Manchester City Football Club.