Manchester Airport celebrates Chinese New Year

  • Direct traffic to China up 17% year on year
  • More than 184,000 passengers flew to Hong Kong last year, whereas 76,000 went to Beijing
  • Wealth of Chinese New Year activity planned including, art exhibition, Chinese Wishing Tree, lucky pig giveaways and traditional Lion Dance
  • Manchester’s routes to China continue to unlock economic growth as a recent report highlighted a 38% increase in Chinese visitors to the North, with average spend increasing by 94%

As Chinese New Year beckons and we enter the Year of the Pig, Manchester Airport is celebrating another strong 12 months as passenger numbers to China grew 17%.

With more than 260,000 passengers travelling to Beijing and Hong Kong in the last year, the UK’s third largest airport continues to play its role as the UK’s global gateway in the North.

Hong Kong has been operated by Cathay Pacific for four years and Beijing with Hainan Airlines for two and a half years. Both routes make Manchester the only English airport outside of London to offer direct services to these destinations, underpinning the vital role the hub plays for its vast catchment area spanning all the North, North Wales and part of the Midlands.

To celebrate and thank passengers for choosing to fly to China from Manchester, the airport has planned a host of activity to celebrate the Year of the Pig in style.

A stunning Chinese Wishing Tree will adorn Terminal Two, giving passengers the opportunity to hang their New Year wishes and desires from the branches of the 10ft blossom tree. In China, blossom trees symbolise new growth, transformation and prosperity.

Passengers will also have the opportunity to enjoy an art exhibition in collaboration with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art that will be in the Terminal Two arrivals halls. Adding other visual touches will be a set of interactive posters with QR codes so passengers can engage with the airport’s WeChat account, and dozens of Chinese lanterns will be hung throughout all the terminals and skylink.

Adding a touch of theatre in Terminal Two check in, will be a traditional Lion Dance and Chinese performers on Chinese New Year (5th February), plus the airport’s choir will serenade passengers airside on the same day.

Finally, amongst all the fun on 5th February, passengers arriving and departing will get the chance to receive a lucky pig envelope, with duty free offers inside and prizes to be won.

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport said:

“We have seen first hand how the connectivity Manchester Airport now provides with China has unlocked a wide range of cultural and economic benefits for the region.

“This year’s Chinese New Year activity will provide an opportunity to celebrate those links and I look forward to sharing the celebrations with our customers during the period.”

The celebrations come on the back of the publication of the second edition of The China Dividend, a report which measured the economic impact of having direct flights to China from Manchester Airport.

The study, launched at the British Embassy in Beijing in September, showed that exports, inward investment enquiries, student numbers and tourism have all boomed since the Hainan route launched.

Mr Cowan added: “The findings of our second China Dividend report clearly showed that direct connectivity to the likes of Beijing and Hong Kong significantly enhances trade, tourism and investment in both directions.

“We are committed to driving such growth across the North by continuing to connect it to the world’s most important markets, and we are confident of securing links to other high value economies in the months and years ahead.

“Finally, I’d like to thank all the 260,000 passengers who have flown through Manchester Airport to China in the last year and hope those travelling over Chinese New Year enjoy the activity we have planned.”

Launched in September 2018, the second version of Manchester Airport’s annual “China Dividend” report highlighted:

  • A 38% increase in the number of Chinese visitors to the North since 2016 – a growth rate higher than both London and the UK average. The UK average is 30%
  • The average spend per visit in the North West increased by 94% to £2,167 and is now 5% higher than the national average
  • The number of Chinese students in Greater Manchester has grown 9% in two years vs national growth of 4%
  • A 114% increase in Northern students gaining Chinese internships, with more than 70% from low income backgrounds
  • The Manchester-Beijing route has grown faster than any other UK-China route that has been in operation for more than 12 months
  • Export values from Manchester Airport to China grew 41% to £1.29bn in the two years after the Beijing route launch, while national values fell 30%.

James Ginns, Cathay Pacific General Manager for Europe, commented: “We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and everyone in Manchester and the surrounding region a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year of the Pig. Our hugely popular daily flight from Manchester to Hong Kong and beyond into China and Asia connects our customers in the north really conveniently with friends and family at this important time of the year.”

Olivier yang, General manager of Hainan Airlines UK, said: “Our direct flight between Manchester and Beijing began as a great partnership between Hainan Airlines, China and Manchester Airport that continues to flourish.

“Manchester and the North West are strategically very important in the future development of this relationship. The potential development opportunities for UK companies in China and the opportunity for inward investment from China make this connection vital for growth.

“Our partners at Manchester Airport continue to support our expansion and progress in the UK market and we’re very proud to be the only airline offering direct flights from mainland China to Manchester.”

Manchester Airport’s Chinese New Year activity takes place between January and March, with the bulk of activity take place on 5th February.

As well as connecting the North to China, Manchester Airport continues to plug the region into key global destinations. In the last year it secured and started routes to Seattle (Thomas Cook Airlines), Mumbai (Jet Airways) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines). These trio of routes again make Manchester the only airport outside of London to offer such services.

For more information see www.manchesterairport.co.uk

Supporting quotes from key stakeholders:

Rhys Whalley, Executive Director, Manchester China Forum

“As the year of the Dog comes to an end and welcome in the year of the Pig, it presents an opportune moment to reflect on the year’s developments, where Manchester has worked tirelessly to further its strong relationship with China.

“Over the course of the past year, Greater Manchester has welcomed over 40 official political and business visits to the city-region underlying China’s continued eagerness and commitment to further strengthening ties with the region. Similarly, a series of senior political and business visit to the Mainland, most notably that of Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham to the World Economic Forum in Tianjin in September, have helped to reinforce Manchester’s growing international profile as well as to advance commercial, educational, sporting and political partnerships.

“What has become increasingly evident is the potential that Manchester and the North have to play a leading role in progressing the next phase of bilateral ties between our nations – a point underlined during the visit of Ambassador Liu Xiaoming to Manchester last month. Indeed, city-regions such as Greater Manchester have an incredibly important role to play in driving forward an agenda of collaboration and openness with key international partners – a role that the Manchester China Forum looks forward to leading into the year of the Pig.”

Sheona Southern, managing director, Marketing Manchester

“China is one of the city-region’s most exciting growing leisure and investment markets, and a key strategic objective in the region’s international strategy. The ongoing success of China-Manchester flights comes as a testament to the success of this strategy, and we look forward to further successes as we continue our work promoting Greater Manchester in China.”

Prof. Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester

“China is a major market for us with nearly 5,000 Chinese students studying at the University of Manchester, overseas centres in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and partnerships with many of China’s leading academic institutions. The direct flight is important for both promoting Manchester and for our broader student experience, enabling us to attract top talent to our international research and development programmes.”

Iain Mackenzie, Store Director - Harvey Nichols Manchester

“Harvey Nichols Manchester continues to welcome visitors from all over the world, with a growing number of tourists and students from China and Hong Kong.

“The ever-increasing connectivity of routes into Manchester Airport continues to position Manchester as a truly international destination, bringing benefits to businesses across Greater Manchester and beyond.

“Harvey Nichols is dedicated to offering international shoppers a tailored welcome with multi-lingual Personal Shoppers and specialist instore services such as Global Blue Tax Free shopping, international payment services from WeChat Pay, AliPay and China Union Pay, plus complimentary gift-wrapping and hotel delivery.”

Yu Dongwen, Lead Director, BCEGI UK

“At BCEGI we have developed a strong relationship with Manchester. Since the announcement of Manchester–Beijing direct flights, BCEGi has been involved with £2.6 bn of projects in the region including Airport City Manchester and the Middlewood Locks development in Salford. We are delighted to help maintain close ties with Greater Manchester and the wider region as it looks to develop and realise the Northern Powerhouse vision.”

Jamie Bettles, Managing Director, InternChina

“I am delighted that the direct air route has contributed to our recent success and we have seen 114% year-on-year growth in students from the North of England taking internships in China since 2016. Last year our student numbers from the North West and Yorkshire regions have increased at more than three-times the rate of that in London and our growth is expected to continue during 2019. The direct route makes return flights to our destinations in China far more convenient, and we hope that additional routes will continue to connect young people from the North West with China”.

Mick Bonney Director of Sales and Business Development, EDM

“China remains our number one priority with potential future business over the next 2-3 years of between £10m-£15m."

Manchester-based flight simulation experts EDM are one of the region’s export success stories. In the first half of 2018, it delivered an A330 cabin evacuation trainer to China Southern Airlines and is working on a similar system for the A380 aircraft. It has also secured two orders with China Eastern Airlines.

Tom Russell, Managing Partner, Alliance Investments

"As we work with hundreds of clients in China, additional connectivity with major Chinese cities would be hugely important for us. Manchester is becoming the best place to invest in property and we have seen a notable increase in interest from China since the Beijing route launch. These routes further the brand recognition and practicality of the North of England, bringing great benefits for many industries across the region.”

Michelle Brown, Marketing Manager, Visit York

“The direct flight to and from Beijing marks a milestone for our relations with China. As a major international gateway into the North of England, the direct flight opens up a world of new opportunities for York, Yorkshire and the North of England, both for tourism and investment generally. China has moved rapidly from the 11th largest overseas tourism market for York to ranking 2nd place behind the US.”

Mark Lynam, Director for Programme Commissioning at Sheffield City Region

“A number of firms in the Sheffield City Region area have seen success in trading with China.

“These businesses make the most of the niche opportunities China’s maturing market is presenting, focusing on high end manufacturing and innovative technology.

“There tends to be particular success in the region by developing links with Chinese cities which are lesser known in the UK, where these opportunities are otherwise undiscovered.

“This direct flight from Manchester to China is therefore of great benefit to businesses not just on the west of the Pennines, but across the North.”

Kenny Murray, Centre Manager of Cheshire Oaks

“Chinese visitors are a significant market for Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, comprising over 50% of our tax-free sales. Since the launch of direct flights from Hong Kong and China, our tax free sale volumes from these markets have grown over 165%, supported by our in-market sales and marketing teams, and close cooperation with Marketing Cheshire and Marketing Manchester to leverage the increased flight capacity into the region.”

Carl Emery of Harris and Howard Tailors in Alderley Edge

“Probably the best example of how the route has benefited us is in terms of productivity. We had a problem with a supplier, with the distance between our headquarters and theirs exacerbating the situation. I made a decision to pay the firm a visit in person and, from leaving my desk in Alderley Edge at 9am on Monday, I was able to spend 18 hours on the ground resolving our issue, while also visiting several other suppliers, before being back in Cheshire before we opened on Wednesday morning.

“China is an amazing place and I feel its economy is bubbling, which has led me to conclude the tine is right to launch ourselves there. We will open our first store in Shenyang and will use the Manchester-Beijing route as the fastest and best value way of getting there. Hopefully, we will open a further branch in Beijing in 2019!”

Jennifer Cormack from The Lake District China Forum

"The Lake District has seen incredible growth in the number of tourists from China since 2016, creating jobs and bringing success to our local businesses. Having a direct flight from Beijing into Manchester has opened an entirely new itinerary for Chinese visitors, as we see more independent travellers, students and group tours wanting to experience The Lake District during their stay in the UK."