The Hainan flight to Beijing will make Manchester the only British hub outside London to have scheduled non-stop flights to Beijing

The first-ever direct flight from Manchester to mainland China will take to the skies today.

In a remarkable coup for the city, the new Hainan Airlines service will make Manchester Airport the only British hub outside London to have a scheduled non-stop flights to Beijing.

Announced in October last year by Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, there will be four flights a week – opening up new business and tourism opportunities.

Experts say the link with the world’s second biggest economy will be worth at least £250m to the UK over the next decade.

And £166m of that is to be ploughed into the north – with a boost to jobs, trade, investment and tourism.

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It will also aid universities – providing an easy link for students – but also boosting the potential to get our world-leading research into the commercial realm.

The first direct connection to the mainland, it will make life easier for the 100,000 passengers who currently make the journey from Manchester indirectly.

And those time-savings are expected to save £5m every year for business passengers.

Hainan Airlines is China’s largest privately-owned airline – and has won a clutch of industry awards.

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The new route is also testament to Manchester Airport’s strength and potential in national aviation.

Ken O’Toole, CEO of Manchester Airport said: “Today’s inaugural flight with Hainan Airlines is clear evidence of the vital economic role that Manchester Airport plays both nationally and regionally within the UK.

“Providing a direct link between the two cities unlocks significant trade and investment opportunities, which will serve as a shot in the arm to efforts to create a re-energised Northern economy.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said the route was ‘testament to the strength of the Northern Powerhouse’.

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Xie Haoming, President of Hainan Airlines, said: “We are delighted to commence our direct scheduled service to Manchester. Beijing to Manchester

“I am sure the route between Manchester and Beijing will be incredibly popular and we look forward to developing our relationship with the city.”

Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council leader, said the service would help Manchester compete on the world stage, while Rhys Whalley, executive director of the Manchester-China Forum, said it was a ‘significant milestone’ for the entire region.

The four-weekly service departs on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, and will be served by an Airbus A330-300. The cabin will have 32 business class seats and 260 in economy. Return fares start from £487.

 
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