Daily flights from the North to Beijing to almost double capacity to China’s capital next year


·       Hainan Airlines’ popular flights to Beijing will operate daily next summer

·       The announcement means capacity on the route will almost double from the present four-times-weekly service

·       Key institutions including the University of Manchester, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and tourism bodies across the North expect the daily summer flights to provide a huge boost to the wider region

Business and tourism leaders across the North have welcomed the news that Manchester Airport will  operate daily flights to Beijing next summer.

Hainan Airlines’ direct service linking Manchester and China’s capital currently runs four times weekly. From June to September 2024, passengers will be able to travel to and from Beijing on any day of the week. Passengers will be able to enjoy the comforts of the airline’s modern and spacious Airbus A330 aircraft during the 10-hour journey, which will depart at 12.15pm each day, and tickets in economy and business class for summer 2024 are now on sale.

Manchester became the first UK hub outside of London to gain a direct flight to mainland China when Hainan Airlines launched its service to Beijing in 2016. The route provides a key economic boost to the North. The airline’s partnership with Loganair 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.

A report issued two years later showed the flights had almost doubled the amount of money spent in the North by Chinese tourists and had increased the number of Chinese students at the region’s universities by around nine per cent, more than double the national average. Export values from Manchester Airport to China also rose 41 per cent, against the backdrop of a 30 per cent drop in the national average. The region’s tourism bodies, and academic institutions expect the commencement of daily summer flights to provide a further boost. 

The expanded route will also offer better connections to people from across the North looking to visit China. Beijing is the gateway to the world’s second most populous country and boasts no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

Chris Woodroofe, Manchester Airport managing director, said: 

"We are proud to connect the North to the world – and to connect the world to the North. From next summer, we will become the only UK airport outside London offering daily direct flights to mainland China, meaning we are able to connect the people of the region to one of the most important economies in the world, and vice versa. 

“Hainan Airlines’ decision to operate a daily Beijing flight from Manchester is testament to the success of the current service. More than 350,000 passengers have used it since it was first launched seven years ago. 

“We know the route is also extremely popular with Chinese visitors. We are a gateway to some of the most vibrant cities and beautiful countryside the UK has to offer, and the daily service is fantastic news for tourism, businesses, and Universities across our region – as well as for Manchester’s Chinese community.” 

Peter Han, general manager of Haian Airlines UK, said: 

"We are thrilled to be almost doubling capacity on our Manchester to Beijing service next summer with a daily flight. There is a lot of demand for travel between the North of England and China, in both directions. This expansion of our service will allow us to meet demand over the busy summer season and marks an exciting new chapter for our operation at Manchester Airport.”

Rhys Whalley, executive director of th Manchester China Forum, said: 

“Increased connectivity with China is a brilliant boost for bi-lateral relations and will strengthen our existing engagement activity with the country. China is a leading source for trade and investment into Greater Manchester and building closer political, academic and commercial ties through these transport links, will enhance and create new opportunities.”

Henri Murison, director if the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: 

"We know that the Asia is responsible for a sizeable proportion of the increase in foreign direct investment we’ve seen to our region in recent years and this improved connectivity to Beijing should help to accelerate that. 

“Manchester Airport plays a vital role in the Northern economy as our gateway to the rest of the world. 

“International connectivity is vital if the North of England is serious about developing our global reputation, supporting our universities as well as building trade and tourism links.” 

For more information on flights to Beijing, visit https://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/destinations-and-guides/beijing/.

Additional supportive quotes:

Victoria Braddock, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said:

“China holds a pivotal role in Greater Manchester's global market, and we are delighted that Hainan Airlines are returning to daily flights between Beijing and Manchester next summer. This enhanced connectivity will offer a significant boost to the visitor economy, as demonstrated by the region's pre-Covid spend of £260m.

“Beyond economic advantages, this increase in flight frequency creates a multitude of opportunities for trade and tourism across the region, positively influencing sectors such as accommodation, retail, restaurants, and attractions.

“Additionally, this increased service will be crucial in supporting the city's large Chinese student population, promoting cultural exchange, and providing greater educational opportunities. We look forward to welcoming more Chinese visitors who choose Greater Manchester as a place to visit, work, study, and invest.”

Jennifer Cormack, Sales and Marketing Director at Windermere Lake Cruises and Chair of the English Lake District China Forum, said:

“This is fantastic news for the English Lake District, Cumbria and the North West as a whole.

“The global pandemic drastically reduced the number of travellers from China coming to the English Lake District, Cumbria and while there has been a steady increase since then, we need to build on that momentum.

“These additional flights will be a boost to our visitor economy. We are already getting very positive feedback from Chinese tour operators at recent trade shows and I will be looking to build on that when I head to China later this month to meet over 80 operators in Shanghai at VisitBritain’s Destination Britain China event, promoting Windermere Lake Cruises and Cumbria.

“Travellers from China are increasingly important to our visitor economy and they like to come here all year round. More flights will offer the potential to develop that year-round business.”

Susan Finnegan, Acting Head of Visitor Economy for Marketing Liverpool, said:

“It's great news that Hainan Airlines will be expanding their service from Beijing to Manchester next summer. Not only will this benefit passengers travelling to the North West of England but it will be a great addition to the existing routes into Liverpool City Region from China. Liverpool has some huge connections with China, whether that be through our twinning with Shanghai, through inbound tourism, international students studying in our city or global investment. The increased service will not only benefit inbound visitors to the region but also our Chinese community in Liverpool.”

Vikki Harris, Marketing and Partnerships Director at Marketing Lancashire, said:

“We have such a rich culture, an abundance of beautiful countryside and 137 miles of breathtaking coastline, not to mention numerous hospitality venues ready to offer a very warm welcome in Lancashire, and Manchester Airport offers one of the most important international gateways for our tourism businesses and the industries, manufacturers and leading universities that call Lancashire their home.

“The news of increased capacity from Hainan Airlines is welcomed as we move closer to the opening of much anticipated projects within Lancashire including Showtown in Blackpool; a world-class museum of fun and entertainment which opens in March, and Eden Project Morecambe; a world-class destination set to attract around 740,000 new visitors a year to Lancashire. It will open new opportunities for Lancashire’s tourism and hospitality businesses and the industries that benefit from the vital connections made thanks to the airport.”

Professor Stephen Flint, Associate Vice-President for Internationalisation at the University of Manchester, welcomed the news, adding:

“More frequent flights to China will support not only the ease with which our Chinese students can join us here in Manchester, but will also support the continued relationship building with partner universities in China.”