Virgin Atlantic has launched its inaugural flight from Manchester to San Francisco, marking the first of a number of new long haul routes to the US.

Joining the San Francisco route, a summer service between Manchester and Boston will launch tomorrow, while a year-round connection to New York JFK is set to commence in May.

The San Francisco route will operate three times weekly on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, departing Manchester at 1120 and arriving in San Francisco at 1440 local time. The return leg leaves San Francisco at 1750, arriving at 1140 local time.

The Boston service will fly twice weekly on Wednesdays and Sundays, departing Manchester at 1120 and arriving at 1655, with the return flight departing Boston at 1910 and arriving at 0645.

Both services will fly on a seasonal basis between March and October, while the New York route will operate year-round from May. All three routes will operate in partnership with Delta Air Lines.

As part of a trade mission between the north of England and Silicon Valley, more than 30 tech leaders from the Northern Powerhouse – a state proposal to boost economic growth in the region – were on board the flight to meet bosses from California’s leading universities, representatives from tech giants and members of Silicon Valley’s venture capital funding community.

The mission is being led by two serial technology investors and entrepreneurs – Scott Fletcher, founder of cloud services provider ANS Group and Dr Adam Beaumont, founder of telecoms platform business Aql – and includes a mix of Northern corporates such as Sage, Coop Digital, as well as a number of early and mid-stage tech firms including VISR-VR, Vibe Tickets, One Iota and Wakelet.

Speaking at Manchester airport, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, Shai Weiss said:

“We want to offer our customers services to places they want to travel to and this summer, we’ll have 26 per cent more seats out of the city than last year, cementing our commitment to Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse.”