Nashville health care companies with a major presence in the U.K. helped lobby for the new direct flight to London that starts Friday. But it may be firms with operations in India that have the most to gain.
Nashville's HCA has a half-dozen hospitals in England. Franklin's Acadia Healthcare has more addiction centers and psychiatric facilities in the U.K than it has in the U.S. But health care IT companies also pushed for the London connection as a serious time saver since most have offices or at least work with companies in India.
"If you kind of do the 'follow the sun' approach, you're getting eight hours of work in the U.S. time zone and then when the U.S. sleeps, you get another eight hours of work in the India time zone," says Saurabh Sinha, CEO of Franklin-based health care IT firm Emids. Any more, it's assumed that some programming will be done offshore, where labor costs are much lower, Sinha says.
With 300 employees in Franklin and 1,300 in Bangalore, executives and project managers from Emids end up making 300 trips to India each year — a data point Sinha shared with prospective airlines considering a London flight from Nashville. He says eliminating one leg of the trip in the U.S. — along with long lines at busier customs terminals — will nearly cut in half the current roundtrip travel time of more than 30 hours.
Sinha also likes the evening departures and the mid-afternoon arrival of the flight, and he expects customs will be a breeze since there are so few international flights to Nashville.
"The timing works really well for me," he says. "I have two young kids, and so I'm able to see them before bedtime and then get on a flight. And then when I return, I'm landing at a time that I can actually have dinner with them. So it saves me some valuable, personal family time too."
Sinha has his first trip booked in two weeks. But a small delegation of executives will be on the first flight out as well, hoping to use the inaugural landing to recruit health care companies based in London to consider a Nashville office.
"By having this direct flight, you all of the sudden have companies that were not even having Nashville in their consideration," says Hayley Hovious, president of the Nashville Health Care Council. "All of the sudden it makes a lot of sense for them to start looking this way."