A tourism chief and the University of Chester have welcomed the first ever direct air passenger service between Manchester and mainland China starting next month.
Katrina Michel, chief executive of Marketing Cheshire, is delighted with Hainan Airlines’ decision to begin operating from Friday June 10, 2016, opening up China to travellers from the North West of England.
There will be four weekly flights to Beijing.
And the airline decided to increase capacity on its Manchester-Beijing route months before it has even launched going from an Airbus 330-200, to an Airbus 330-300.
The larger aircraft holds a total of 292 passengers, with 32 in business class and 260 in economy.
Katrina, whose Marketing Cheshire organisation promotes our county nationally and internationally, said: “Hooray! Now Cheshire businesses wanting to do business with China have a much shorter flight and Chinese visitors who are keen to explore English tourism outside London can come straight into Manchester and follow itineraries that encompass the best of the North which include the city of Chester with its cathedral, walls and Rows, Cheshire Oaks, Chester Zoo and the Cheshire countryside with its fabulous National Trust properties.
“Marketing Cheshire were in China last November with Visit Britain to makes sure this all happens.”
The route will make Manchester the only airport outside of London with a direct scheduled service to China.
A spokesperson for the University of Chester said: "The university warmly welcomes this new non-stop direct flight between the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse region, Manchester Airport, and the Chinese capital, Beijing.
“This will aid communication for regional industry, research and students, and strengthen trade, culture and knowledge development, and help foster what is a growing relationship between China and the UK.
“The University of Chester has well-established relationships with universities and organisations across China, in particular in the Beijing region, as well as playing host to several hundred Chinese nationals who study at the University. This new direct route, operated by 5-star rated Hainan Airlines, will significantly reduce travel time and early indications are that travel costs will also be reduced, which is very welcome news.”
Xie Haoming, chairman at Hainan Airlines, said: “We are delighted to be able to increase the capacity on our flights to and from Manchester. It highlights just how committed Hainan Airlines is on making this route a success.
“After what has been an incredibly positive Chinese New Year, we are now all focused on the route commencing in June. We look forward to welcoming passengers from the North and I am sure our Chinese passengers cannot wait to come and visit Manchester and the wider region.”
The Manchester-Beijing route is worth at least £250m in economic benefits to the UK over the next decade, with two-thirds being felt directly in the northern economy in terms of increased jobs, economic activity and tourism.
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