NW trade and tourism boost as air link with Beijing increases to four a week

Hainan Airlines

Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines has increased the frequency of its flights from Manchester to four a week.

The airline restored the link in August last year, following the impact of the pandemic, with one flight per week to Beijing. Hainan launched its route to Beijing in 2016, which delivered a huge economic and cultural boost to the region in the years that followed.

Now, from this month, the route will fly every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, all served by Airbus A330 aircraft.

Manchester Airport managing director, Chris Woodroofe, said: “The economic benefits of more regular flights between Manchester and Beijing will be significant, whether that be in terms of trade, tourism or inward investment.

“But the positive impacts go beyond that – Manchester’s Chinese community is part of the fabric of the city, and this increase in frequency will make it much easier for people to travel in both directions to visit friends and family.

“As the final international travel restrictions have been removed, it has been hugely exciting to see services like this return to full strength, underlining Manchester Airport’s role as the UK’s global gateway in the North. I look forward to working with Hainan Airlines to make this service as successful as possible.”

According to the 2011 Census around 13,500 Chinese residents live in Manchester, more than any city in the UK outside London.

A further 8,000 Chinese residents live in Liverpool, 7,000 in Sheffield and 6,000 in Leeds. The routes between Manchester and Beijing have been popular with communities across the North.

News of the increased frequencies has been welcomed by the Chinese community and civic leaders. Rhys Whalley, chief executive of the Manchester China Forum, said: “With COVID restrictions only having been lifted two months ago, this signals a remarkable recovery to a critically important long haul route connecting the North of England into the capital of the world’s key growth economy.

“In its first two years of operation, the Manchester-Beijing route stimulated a 40% increase in export values as well as visitor numbers to the region. With International Monetary Fund estimates suggesting that China will represent a third of global growth in 2023 and its outbound tourism market expected to exceed $163bn by 2024, direct links will undoubtedly underpin the region’s ambitions to stimulate growth through enhanced connectivity with this key global consumer market.”

Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “This is great news, not just for Manchester but the whole of the North of England. Manchester Airport acts as the North’s long haul hub, giving us access to key global markets such as China which are absolutely vital for our economy, unlocking billions through trade, tourism and investment.

“It’s also critical for supporting the thousands of international students who come to the Northern Powerhouse to study at our world leading universities.”

“Our own analysis found that inward investment into the North from Asia has grown significantly in recent years and now that regular flights have resumed, we hope this upward trend can continue.”