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New figures show a jump in the number of passengers between Manchester Airport and Beijing in the second half 2023 as the airport prepares to mark Lunar New Year.
Hainan Airlines brought back its flights to the Chinese capital in late 2022 after a hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic, and passenger numbers rose dramatically over the first full year of the route’s resumption. 32,933 passengers used the route in the second half of 2023 – up from 16,186 in the first half of the year, an increase of 104%. The figure is expected to rise further this year, with Hainan Airlines upping the number of flights in June from four-times-per-week to daily.
The airline’s partnership with Loganair also means passengers from other UK regions can also benefit from these links with tickets available from Aberdeen, Inverness, the Isle of Man and Newquay to Beijing, with a simple airside transfer at Manchester.
Manchester has one of the UK’s oldest and largest Chinese communities and celebrates the Lunar New Year with an impressive parade through the city centre. Manchester Airport is marking the occasion with a fortune cookie and plush toy dragon giveaway to passengers heading to China, while colleagues will also take part in the city centre parade..
The Beijing flights also underpin crucial economic ties between China and the north of the UK. Export values from Manchester Airport to China grew 41% and enquiries about investment in the area from China doubled in the two years after the route first launched. The region’s universities also saw a boost of nearly 10% in the number of Chinese students enrolling.
More than 117,000 passengers also travelled between Manchester and Hong Kong last year, where Cathay Pacific operates four flights per week.
Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said:
“We’d like to wish a happy Lunar New Year to all those celebrating. The Year of the Dragon is believed to bring good luck and prosperity, and we are certainly very fortunate in Manchester to have a direct link to Beijing, which will become a daily service this summer.
“We’re proud to connect the North with the world, and with services to destinations like Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, our links to the Far East are unrivalled by any other UK airport outside of London.”
Rhys Whalley, Executive Director at the Manchester China Forum, added:
“Hainan Airlines’ decision to take the Manchester-Beijing route daily this summer is not only a vote of confidence in the prospects for post-pandemic two-way traffic, but also in the airline’s conviction that the region will serve as a key gateway for Chinese businesses, students and visitors entering the UK market.
“This weekend’s Lunar New Year celebrations will once again see tens of thousands gather in Manchester’s Chinatown to welcome in the new year. As some of the largest scale celebrations in Europe; this will provide local residents, the thousands of Chinese students studying across the region as well as the ever-growing Chinese business community, an opportunity to come together to welcome in the year of the Dragon.”