Huge boost for the North as Manchester Airport secures landmark link to Shanghai

Route will benefit 183,000 people across the North who access Shanghai via other means.

  • Flights start end of March 2020 and will operate three times per week
  • 787 Dreamliner aircraft in operation with a two-class configuration
  • Dignitaries, businesses, universities and tourism bodies praise the route
  • Only UK airport outside of London now with the route

Manchester Airport today announced a landmark deal to connect the North with Shanghai, China’s biggest city and one of the world’s most important economic powerhouses.

Chinese carrier Juneyao Air has chosen the Northern hub for its first ever UK service, which will operate three-times-a-week using the state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The news has been hailed as “a key step towards making the North one of the world’s most globally competitive regions” and is tipped to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of trade, investment and tourism benefits.

It will be a boost for the 180,000 people and businesses within Manchester Airport’s catchment area who already travel to Shanghai, ranked as one of the top five Global Financial Centres, each year.

And business, university and cultural leaders say the link will stimulate further valuable connections between the Far East and all parts of the North.

Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan said:

“This news underlines the critical role Manchester Airport plays in connecting people and businesses across the North to the world’s most important markets.

“We have seen first-hand how new routes to high-growth economies can unlock significant trade, cultural and knowledge exchange opportunities and this will be no different.

“We are delighted that Juneyao Air has recognised everything the North has to offer, in terms of its business base, natural and cultural assets and world-leading universities when choosing to launch this new service.

“I would like to thank all those who have worked hard to strengthen our region’s ties with China, especially the Manchester China Forum, in recent years.”

Originally a fishing village and market town, Shanghai has grown to be one of the world’s key economic powerhouses, with a population of nearly 25m.

It is home to the worlds’ busiest container port and seen as a leading hub for finance, innovation and transportation, providing wide-ranging collaboration opportunities for the North.

Juneyao’s services with operate initially via Helsinki, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It will arrive into Manchester at 08.30 and depart for Shanghai at 10:00. Juneyao will operate a Dreamliner, with business and economy cabins, on the route.

Wang Junjin, Juneyao Air Chariman, said:

“Juneyao Air is delighted to launch its first fifth-freedom route to Manchester, and we look forward to developing Manchester’s traffic growth in the coming years. This route will further promote Greater Manchester’s tourism, as well giving Britain an opportunity to boost its trade and investment links to China.”

Juneyao Air is one of the leading private-owned carriers in mainland China. Founded in September 2006, the carrier now owns 72 aircraft, consisting of Airbus A320s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The airline operates more than 160 routes linking major cities in China as well as international destinations. In 2018 Juneyao Air carried over 18 million passengers.

Juneyao Air’s flagship - the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner features two cabins offering comfortable ergonomic seating, enhanced definition intuitive touch personal entertainment screens and wireless internet access. All seats in Business Class have direct access to the aisle and can be fully reclined into a bed position, giving passengers a superior sleep experience, which greatly enhance the level of the travel comfort. The seats in the Economy Class are designed to provide comfortable personal space and state-of-the-art individual on-demand entertainment.

For more information see: www.manchesterairport.co.uk or https://global.juneyaoair.com/

This new long-haul route is just one of several the Northern hub has confirmed in recent years and is a shot in the arm for the entire region. Following the launch of the airport’s Beijing service three years ago, the region has seen masses of benefits such as a 38% increase in the number of Chinese visitors, average spend per visit increasing by 94% (5% ahead of the national average) and export values growing by 41%. It is predicted this route will create similar opportunities, which is why a host of businesses and organisations from York to Liverpool and beyond have championed the route (full list below).

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:

“Forging closer links between China and the Northern Powerhouse is crucial to increasing the contribution the North makes to the UK economy and reinforces the role of Manchester Airport as the global, long-haul gateway to the North – a Heathrow for the North bringing investment, growth and skilled jobs to the region.

“This new route to Shanghai and others including to the US and Bangladesh, is not simply about connecting the people of the North West to the world. It is a chance for all of the Northern Powerhouse’s 15 million people to create new opportunities for them and their families.”

Rhys Whalley, Executive Director, Manchester China Forum said:

“Juneyao’s new route to Shanghai is another significant development in Manchester’s relationship with China and is another important step forward in making the North one of the world’s most globally competitive regions to do business in. We know the positive impact that connectivity can have on the prosperity of Greater Manchester, and so a route to Shanghai, a key global financial and trading hub, will no doubt deliver a significant long-term boost to our ambitions in further enhancing links to the world's major growth economy.”

The route has also been welcomed by key dignitaries in both the UK and China.

Zheng Xiyuan, Consul General for China in Manchester said:

“It is extremely positive news to hear about Juneyao Air’s new route to Shanghai from Manchester. Manchester and China have a long history of partnership and collaboration, and I am pleased that Shanghai will now become a major part of its future.”

Chris Wood, Consul General of the UK in Shanghai said:

“I am delighted to welcome a new route from Shanghai to Manchester. By connecting these two dynamic cities, we are strengthening existing relationships and further developing Shanghai’s ties to the North of England.”


North West

Emma Degg, Chief Executive NWBLT said: “Universities and businesses from across Manchester and the wider North West will really welcome this brilliant news. Direct connectivity to major markets is incredibly important in both securing, and growing, our export of goods and services. It is also a real vote of confidence in our wider economy and the potential for continued growth in the coming years. It is important that we now all work together to secure the benefits of this new opportunity for trade and jobs.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of GM LEP & IOD North West said, “Connectivity between Manchester and China with the direct route to Beijing has already driven significant economic benefits for the North West and wider north. Global connectivity is vital for businesses looking to trade and do business with international markets and the opportunity that China presents is substantial. Therefore I’m delighted to see the addition of a key strategic route with Shanghai, which will only add to the potential of the north to realise its ambitions.”

Greater Manchester

Clive Memmott, Chief Executive GM Chamber of Commerce said, “This is another important milestone for Manchester Airport, GM and the north. The economic impact of major new strategic routes like this are substantial, and further strengthen the relationship between Manchester and great world cities like Shanghai. This also shows how much confidence there is in the continued growth and ambition of GM despite the many uncertainties facing the country as a whole.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “Shanghai is fast becoming one of the global leaders in development and innovation, so this new airline route from Manchester Airport provides an incredible opportunity for partnerships with our University. It will allow us to work even more closely than before, bringing together world class research and experts to become leaders in sectors such as advanced materials and healthcare technology innovation.”

Dr Tony Bannan OBE, Chief Executive Officer, PTG Holroyd: “As an organisation that exports around 98% of its products, being in close proximity to Manchester Airport is essential for PTG Holroyd. The extensive routes operated by the airport – particularly to the USA, China and Europe – have proved a key factor in the development and growth of our business overseas. There is little doubt that the recently introduced direct route to Shanghai will help to further enhance our established business links throughout the region.”

Sheona Southern, managing director of Marketing Manchester said: “The Shanghai-Manchester announcement is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, proving that the Chinese audiences are increasingly seeing the benefits of the region as a place to live, work and invest. China is one of the city-region’s most exciting burgeoning leisure and investment markets, and a key strategic objective in the region’s international strategy. Marketing Manchester’s integrated marketing, press and digital campaign work with VisitBritain and other partners both in China and across the North West has ensured that Chinese audiences see the region not only as a globally competitive modern destination in its own right, but also as the gateway to the north of England. The ongoing success of China-Manchester connectivity comes as a testament to the success of this activity, and we look forward to further successes as we continue to promote Greater Manchester in China.”

Danny Pearson, General Manager of Kitkase, said: “The route between Manchester and Shanghai is brilliant news for us at Kitkase. As we manufacture some of our products in China with Shanghai airport being the closest in proximity to our factories, this increased accessibility will allow for more frequent visits. As a result, we will be able to work closer with the manufacture teams to create more innovative products to continue providing the best possible luggage solutions to our customers.”


David Pinder, CEO of Baxi Heating UK, said: “We welcome the news of a new route to Shanghai from Manchester airport. Baxi Heating’s parent, BDR Thermea Group, is expanding into the burgeoning Chinese heating market, which is now the world’s largest. We are building a new factory in Jia Xing, just 100 km from Shanghai, so this new service will be extremely convenient for us to travel to the new factory and to welcome our Chinese colleagues to our facilities in the North West, facilitating knowledge transfer in both directions.”


Chris Brown, Director of Marketing Liverpool, said: “Liverpool has had exceptionally strong links with Shanghai dating back two centuries, and we are closer to our sister city than ever before. We welcome a great number of leisure visitors from China each year, as well as being home to thousands of Chinese students and boasting strong commercial ties with Shanghai businesses. All of these travellers will be delighted that there are to be direct flights from Shanghai to Manchester, making it even easier to access the North of England.”


Kenny Murray, General Manager, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks said, “As one of the leading designer outlets in the UK, we are delighted to hear of the new flight route, linking Shanghai directly to Manchester. Each year we continue to welcome further international visitors to the centre and have seen an uplift in tourists in search of premium products. Here at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks, guests have access to 150 stores with year-round savings of up to 60% .”


Gill Haigh, Managing Director, Cumbria Tourism said, “With our world renowned brands and now two World Heritage Site statuses, the Lake District and wider county is becoming increasingly popular with international visitors. This is supported by the increasing number of direct flights into Manchester Airport and we are delighted to see new direct flights into Manchester from Shanghai. With quick and easy transfers and connections from the airport into the county, we look forward to welcoming new passengers via this new route.”

Jennifer Cormack, Sales and Marketing Director at Windermere Lake Cruises, said: “Following the launch of the direct flights from Beijing to Manchester, here at Windermere Lake Cruises we have seen both independent travellers and those visiting as part of larger groups increase by a massive 286% since June 2016. Figures also show a year-on-year rise in the number of tickets being booked online from China, rising by 32% in 2016, increasing to 59% in 2017 – and jumping to 70% in 2018. Hotels have also reported an 85% increase in Chinese bookings across their properties since the direct flight.

“We envisage that a direct flight from Shanghai to Manchester will only increase this growth further, not only to our attraction and region, but all Northern regions, who we are working closely with when attracting this market. Having two direct routes into Manchester from mainland China it’s a huge advantage to our region and further promotes our dedication to the Chinese market and strengthens the message that Manchester IS the gateway to the North.”

Jim Walker - Chair, Northern English Lake District China Forum: “We are delighted with the news of the new Shanghai to Manchester service. North Lakes China Forum members have been working closely and very successfully with our colleagues in Manchester to encourage our friends from China to explore more of our beautiful Lake District. This new route means our World Heritage Site will hopefully attract more Chinese visitors to visit and really get to know the area, see the stunning landscape views, experience our local food and learn more about out fascinating culture and heritage.”


Martin Hathaway, Managing Director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Having increased connections to China is great news for businesses across Yorkshire so I’m delighted to hear Manchester Airport will soon be launching flights to Shanghai. Businesses throughout Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield will benefit from faster and more direct connectivity to Shanghai, and the potential impact this will have on exports, tourism, students and jobs is substantial.”

Michelle Brown, Marketing Manager, Visit York, said: “We are delighted to hear that this new route is confirmed from Shanghai to Manchester which will bring even more connectivity to the North of England. In York over the past 3 years since the Beijing route launched, we’ve seen a massive impact on our inbound Chinese visitor figures, ranking now as the 2nd highest overseas market to York after the US. This is also great news in terms of access to Nanjing, our sister city, which is just a short train ride away from Shanghai.”