In October 2015, Manchester Airport secured its first ever direct service to mainland China, making Manchester the only UK airport outside of London with a direct scheduled service to China. Launching in June 2016, the service offered by Hainan Airlines will fly four times a week to the Chinese capital, Beijing, demonstrating the demand for more flights between the two countries.
Before the first flight has even taken to the air, Hainan Airlines has increased its aircraft capacity to 292 passengers, a make-up of 32 business class passengers and 260 in economy, going from an Airbus 330-200, to an Airbus 330-300.
Stephen Turner, commercial director at Manchester Airport said: “It is excellent news that Hainan Airlines is increasing the number of seats on its four flights a week to Beijing. This gives the 22m people in our catchment area more choice and availability on what we believe will be an incredibly popular route.”
“Feedback from passengers tells us that people want to fly from their local airport and this new route allows them to do just that whether on business or leisure.”
The Manchester-Beijing route will be worth at least £250m to the UK over the next decade, with two-thirds benefiting the north. At the same time, by providing a non-stop service, the new route will also generate journey time savings worth £5m every year for business passengers.
Relations between China and the North are thriving at present, none more so since the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency, Xi Jinping visited Manchester and unveiled the new service and investment plans in October last year.
Manchester is home to many businesses who have ties with Chinese companies, but also houses a large number of Chinese students across its two universities. The new service therefore not only benefits tourists and business travellers, but also students and Chinese natives who want to travel home. Another benefit of the direct service also means that passengers no longer have to travel down to London to reach Beijing or via other hubs. This not only saves time, but also money, with the Manchester direct service taking approximately 10 hours to reach the Chinese capital.
The future looks bright for Manchester Airport, especially having also recently releasing more details on its £1 billion transformation programme. The huge investment, which sees Terminal Two grow by 140%, becoming the primary terminal, will only develop the ever increasing route network and continue to improve the customer experience.