For the first time in two and a half years, Manchester’s connection to Beijing will be restored following the decision from Hainan Airlines. Reviving the route is expected to provide an economic boost to the North of England.
Flights to Beijing were previously operating with direct links from Manchester Airport and had done so from it’s first introduction in 2016. However, this came to a halt following the pandemic, in which the routes were closed, leading to August 2022, where after two and a half years, they will finally be reopening. This makes Manchester Airport the only travel hub outside of London with a direct service to mainland China.
This news has been hailed as a major boost to the North and expected to heavily contribute towards the UK’s levelling-up ambitions, a scheme in which aims to provide northern areas the same economic opportunities and wealth as the UK’s southern counterparts.
Chris Woodfroofe, Managing Director of Manchester Airport has said; “Today’s announcement is clear evidence of the vital economic role that Manchester Airport plays, both in the North and the UK as a whole, as we emerge from the pandemic. ”Continuing to provide context on the decision to reopen the route, “Prior to 2020, the Hainan service provided vital connectivity to one of the world’s most important economies and I am sure this news will be welcomed by the hundreds of thousands of people across the North who travel to and from China each year… It is extremely positive to see critical routes like this return to our departure boards and we look forward to working closely with Hainan Airlines to build on the previous success of this route.”
So, how will it specifically effect the northern economies?
Firstly, pre-pandemic, 100,000 people a year travelled between Manchester and Beijing from the airport’s catchment area.
Secondly, economic impact studies have revealed that the route previously led to a 38% increase in Chinese visitors to the north, with an average spend per visit increasing by 94%, and export values grew by 41%.
Lastly, the route is expected to benefit the over 40 universities across the airport’s catchment area, which already welcome thousands of Chinese students each year. Around 20%of Manchester University’s student population come from outside of the UK and a large demographic are from China.
The direct route is yet another way Manchester can level up and become the leader of the Northern Powerhouse.