The North will soon be better connected to China than ever before, as it was announced a second Far East flight service will go daily.
Hainan Airlines, which kicked-off its route to Beijing last June, has already upped the number of weekly flights from four to five, due to its popularity.
Now the carrier has revealed it will make the service daily during the summer, means a 31% increase to capacity between Manchester and the Chinese capital.
That comes on the back of news that Cathay Pacific will 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.”