Connectivity from the North to the Far East has improved even more as a second operator launches a daily flight from Manchester to China.
Hainan Airlines, which kicked-off its route to Beijing last June, revealed it will make the service daily during the summer, means a 31% increase to capacity between Manchester and the Chinese capital.
The news comes on the back of Cathay Pacific’s announcement to make its Hong Kong route daily from December, with an increase to five flights a week from June.
Both services have already had a significant impact on driving trade, investment and tourism in the North since starting. Together, they are worth around £100m a year to the tourism sector alone, while levels of investment from the Far East in the North have grown since their launch.
The increased frequencies will drive these trends further, with the news being welcomed by businesses and other organisations across the North.
Ken O’Toole, CEO of Manchester Airport, said:
“Securing direct services to China was a long-standing ambition of Manchester Airport and the region as a whole.
“The fact the Beijing and Hong Kong routes have been so successful is testament to both the strength of the North’s economy and its rich cultural, sporting and leisure scene, which has been hugely popular with Chinese visitors.
“The fact both carriers have chosen to operate daily services will deliver further trade, tourism and investment benefits to all parts of the North and this growth demonstrates the power of direct connectivity to the world’s most important markets.”
Hainan Airlines, who currently fly four times a week to Beijing, will start its daily service in July until the end of September. The Skytrax five star carrier will also be changing its aircraft to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the most modern aircraft in the sky.
Cathay Pacific will increase to five services from 2nd June, with the daily service starting on 1st December. The airline too is improving its aircraft with the introduction of the ultra-efficient Airbus A350.
Loic Gao, General manager of Hainan Airlines, said:
“In line with our ambitious expansion into the UK market the decision to increase our capacity to a daily flight from Manchester to Beijing shows our commitment to our UK operation.
“It enables us to be even more competitive as well as offering enhanced services on board our new Dreamliners. We are extremely pleased with the route performance so far and by adding the extra flights for the summer season, we are certain that the news will be welcomed by both our Business and Leisure passengers.”
Neil Glenn, General Manager Europe for Cathay Pacific, commented:
“The UK is a very important market for us and one that we have served for over 35 years. From Hong Kong International Airport – Asia’s leading aviation hub – the airline serves over 190 destinations, including North and South Asia, Australia and New Zealand, as well as 22 destinations within mainland China which are all proving very popular for those travelling from Manchester. Indeed, since launching Manchester Airport’s first direct service to Hong Kong back in 2014, we have seen continued growth in demand between the North West and Asia which is great news for the region.
“Increasing our frequency to five times weekly in June and introducing a daily flight from Manchester Airport this coming December – coupled with the introduction of the brand new A350-900 aircraft on the route from this June – demonstrates Cathay Pacific’s commitment to offering increased convenience and superior in-flight products for our customers travelling to and from the North West region.”
Both destinations make Manchester the only airport in the UK outside of London to offer direct scheduled service to China. Cathay Pacific started flights to Hong Kong in December 2014 and Hainan Airlines in June 2016.
The news has been welcomed by a range of businesses and organisations across the region:
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has established itself as a key gateway to one of world’s most dynamic economies with regular flights to Beijing and Hong Kong and that can only be good for the city and the wider region. The better connected Manchester and the North is internationally, the better we are able to compete on a world stage, attracting jobs investment and visitors and helping realise the potential of the Northern Powerhouse. This announcement further strengthens Manchester Airport’s status as a global hub.”
Katrina Michel, CEO of Marketing Cheshire said:
“We are delighted to hear how successful the Beijing route has been and that we will be enjoying daily services at certain periods. China is increasingly part of our overall business and leisure tourism strategy and now we are likely to have even more visitors we will be working with all of our businesses to make our China welcome really warm”
Steve Brown at Make it York said:
“This is great news not just for Manchester but for the whole of the North of England. Here in York there continues to be rapid growth in the number of Chinese visitors and this new daily service will clearly help to keep this going. This will also be significant for our two universities both of which have impressive numbers of Chinese students.”
Chris Scholey, from Local Enterprise Board of the Sheffield City Region, said:
“This is great news for this region and the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.
“Connectivity is vital for growth and in Sheffield we have recently welcomed the fantastic success news that a partnership agreement between Sheffield City Council and the Chinese-led Sichaun Guodong will see major investment in Sheffield, including apartments, offices, leisure facilities and, potentially, a five-star hotel. This is the biggest deal for any city outside London, with the first three years worth more than £200million to the city.
“In November we will be proudly hosting Horasis China, when over 300 business and government leaders will attend an intensive two-day programme, designed for senior decision makers from China and the world, to identify business opportunities and economic development.
“We have a thriving international business community in the Sheffield City Region and the news of a daily flight to Beijing is very good indeed.”
Emma Sheldon, Marketing Director at Vernacare said:
“It is great to see Manchester Airport Group supporting businesses to get the routes that matter, providing more accessibility and making it more simple and affordable to do business face to face. This will help drive businesses to take the leap into exporting, further develop existing export arrangements and accelerate growth across the region. In the year of the rooster, we are seeing more and more global opportunity and we should encourage more Northern Powerhouse businesses to take the leap and maximise on the great steps being made by Manchester Airport Group, Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific.”
With 210 destinations served by more than 70 airlines and in excess of 26m annual passengers, Manchester Airport continues to play its role as the UK’s global gateway for the North.