Manchester airport hope its first direct flight to Hong Kong will bring business and tourism boost

There is now a new direct Cathay Pacific flight from Manchester to China (Hong Kong), avoiding the need to hub via Heathrow, or any other European airport. This makes Manchester the first airport outside London to offer a non-stop direct route to China – which may be a boost to the region’s economy. There will be 4 flights per week.  The airport hopes rich Chinese visitors – as well as business people – will come direct to Manchester, rather than all going to London. Manchester’s “Airport City” has had key investment from the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group. It has taken Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, 3 years to secure the link.  Mr Cornish has been appealed to the Airports Commission to ensure the country’s future aviation needs are met by a ‘network of regional airports’ – rather than money ploughed solely into Gatwick and Heathrow. The route will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which can carry 300 passengers. From Hong Kong, passengers can connect to  22 cities in mainland China.  As they have done successfully from flights from Heathrow for decades – without more direct city links.  The UK has always had good links to Hong Kong, for historical reasons.


Business boost as first non-stop direct flight to China takes off

8.12.2014 (Manchester Evening News)

By Charlotte Cox

Service is a boost for tourists and business and places Manchester firmly on the map for Chinese visitors

Manchester’s first non-stop flight to China was set to take off today – opening up a floodgate of opportunity from east to west.

The new route makes Manchester the first airport outside London to offer a non-stop direct route to China – a major boost to the region’s economy.

The long-awaited Cathay Pacific service, which will jet to and from Hong Kong four times a week, was due to take off at noon.

Announced in April, the 12-hour flights have created 200 jobs and opened up a brave new world for businesses across the north-west – as well as giving tourists direct access to the region.

Vitally, it puts Manchester firmly on the map as a destination for business and leisure travellers from China. It’s also a major shot in the arm for the £800m Airport City project.

The enterprise hub has received key investment from the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group, and the new link to China will make it a more attractive prospect for global traders.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, who led a three-year campaign to secure the link, said: “It is an incredibly important and exciting day here at Manchester Airport and a delight to see our direct flights to China commence. Obtaining the route has been a key objective of ours for several years and to achieve it two years ahead of schedule is testament to the continued growth, development and role Manchester Airport has to play in UK aviation.”

The new flight comes after Mr Cornish appealed to the Airports Commission to ensure the country’s future aviation needs are met by a ‘network of regional airports’ – rather than money ploughed solely into Gatwick and Heathrow.

He added: “It is pleasing to see such strong load factors on the first flights, proving that demand for direct services is well and truly here in the North West, from the 100,000 people within our region, who currently travel to Hong Kong via London or other European hubs.”

Starting from Monday, inbound flights on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which carry 300 passengers, will arrive into Manchester from Hong Kong at 6.20am every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Flights will leave Manchester on the same days at noon, arriving in Hong Kong at 7.55am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

From Hong Kong, passengers can connect to 190 global destinations – including 22 in mainland China.
Cathay Pacific’s flight is one part of its investment in Manchester. It is also supporting city initiatives including Chinese New Year and the Manchester International Festival.

Angus Barclay, General Manager Europe at Cathay Pacific, said: “Today’s first flight marks an exciting period for not only the airline, but also for the North West region as it brings opportunities to build strong links between the UK and China from both a business and leisure perspective.

“This will be the only non-stop direct service from Manchester to Hong Kong; Cathay Pacific offers passengers even more choice and flexibility and, at the same time, will boost Manchester’s standing as an international hub.”

He added: “We already operate five flights a day from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and the addition of the Manchester route provides a real opportunity to help stimulate economic growth in the North West.”

And a deal between Cathay Pacific and Flybe means passengers can fly in to Manchester from Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Exeter, Inverness, Isle of Man and Southampton then on to Hong Kong with just one ticket.Cathay Pacific also has a direct 22 hour flight between Manchester and Sydney.

Singapore Airlines also offers a route from Manchester to Singapore, via Munich.

Manchester Airport, the country’s third biggest airport, now carries nearly 22m passengers a year, to more than 200 destinations.

Combined with the £800m Airport City development, the China route can only boost its position as a powerful international transport and business hub.

Tickets can be booked via with return lead in fares in economy starting rom £639 to Hong Kong International Airport, inclusive of all taxes.



CONSTRUCTION and engineering firm has hit our headlines for being a joint venture partner in the £800m Airport City project.

But its empire is vast, having built important structures in Beijing and across the world though its international branches – including one in America.

It has been ranked the 50th largest construction and engineering firm in the world by revenue.

Since last year’s announcement of the firm’s investment in Airport City, the firm has set up a 25-strong office at the airport.

Spokesman Lau Yew Cheong said: “All of BCEG is looking forward to the new route coming to Manchester Airport. Not only will our colleagues be able to benefit from it, but it will be advantageous and attractive to other Chinese businesses who are thinking about re-locating to Airport City Manchester, which is progressing at a great speed. The route further adds to Airport City’s unique selling point of unrivalled connectivity and we firmly believe that the demand is there from the North West of England, mainland China and Hong Kong to use it.”

Opinion: Future of Manchester Airport is looking bright

8.12.2014 (Manchester Evening News)

By Lucy Roue

Andrew Cowan, chief operating officer of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), on regional success

In the last 12 months we have laid some hugely significant foundations for the future prosperity of Manchester Airport and the North of England.

Overall, we are currently seeing a monthly year on year increase of approximately seven per cent in passenger numbers, outperforming the industry average and highlighting the strength and critical role that Manchester Airport plays in UK aviation.

We’re now set to break the 22 million passenger mark in the coming months, a figure we’ve not seen since 2007.

As well as an increase in passenger numbers, we have seen an overall increase in routes.

We have added new services to Vienna and Jeddah and have seen increased capacity on many of our international destinations, including Toronto, Doha, Atlanta, and New York.

December also sees the first direct flights to China from any UK airport outside London, when Cathay Pacific starts a nonstop service to Hong Kong.

The new routes and increased capacity are testament to the amount of investment we have made this year.

Millions of pounds are being invested in capital expenditure to ensure the airport is ready to serve the increased number of passengers.

As well as this, we have seen a very positive impact from our Fly Manchester marketing campaign, to lure people back to Manchester Airport, instead of making the journey down to London airports.

andrew cowan
There is still work to be done on this and, while we now have over four million long haul passengers a year, the same number still regularly travel down to London to fly and we see this as an opportunity.

Our ability to deliver a direct flight to China was based on the fact that a third of the UK’s traffic to China originates in the north west, proving that there is huge demand for long haul routes in our region.

Looking ahead, 2015 will be an historic year for UK aviation and for the Manchester city region. The final report of Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission is due to be announced. We are in favour of making best use of the capacity that we have as a country.

Other than Heathrow, Manchester is the only airport in the UK with two full-length runways in existence, meaning we have the spare capacity that can be used to help disperse air traffic. We’ve been vocal about the role Manchester can play and have fought back when London Heathrow advertised across our catchment area, trying to tempt north west businesses for support.

Our experience is that, given the option, passengers overwhelmingly prefer to fly from their local airport.

Passengers in the north consistently tell us they’d much rather fly from Manchester where possible.

Despite this, four million passengers a year ‘leak’ from the north to the London airports. Meeting this demand locally would provide a better service for passengers, and support economic regeneration.

It would also open up capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick, to help them meet the south east’s own demand problems – something that must be a priority, given the massive constraints, over at least the next 10 to 15 years.

With our two runways and three terminals, we have the capacity for 55 million passengers a year, so are currently only half full.

Through the devolution Manchester is set to get and the chancellor’s vision for a northern powerhouse, coupled with a potential fairer air passenger duty rate, more airlines will really see the potential of Manchester.

Manchester is a major economy and not only understands the importance of the public sector working in partnership with the private sector to deliver successful projects, but also the critical role of infrastructure in making places attractive to investors.

We’re well prepared to use our existing spare capacity effectively and have invested in our ground transportation to make the airport as accessible as possible.

This includes giving £50m to Metrolink to build the tramway out to the airport, something which was completed a year ahead of schedule.

We’re also working with Network Rail on the £600m Northern Hub programme, which is set to see our airport train station receive a fourth platform, increasing capacity and frequency and opening up new destinations like Halifax and Bradford.

Further down the line, we are also supportive of the HS2/3 plans, which will provide faster services and more capacity across the region.

We recently welcomed the Rebalancing Britain report from Sir David Higgins, particularly its recognition of the vital role that Manchester Airport will play in delivering a northern powerhouse.

The north has a wealth of untapped potential and we share Sir David’s view that integrating Manchester Airport with high speed rail links will deliver substantial economic benefits for the entire country. We have more than 22 million people and 60 per cent of UK businesses within a two-hour drive, so shortening journey times makes us more accessible and increases our catchment area.

With strong foundations laid during 2014 and the increasing benefits of Manchester’s major role to play as a global airport in the north of England, it’s important that everyone concerned continues to progress, to make sure the UK, and the region, does not get left behind.





Qatar Airways to increase Manchester flights

26 Nov 2014

Qatar Airways is to increase capacity on its Doha-Manchester route to make it double-daily service. The airline is currently operating 10 weekly flights on the route but this will increase to twice per day (ie. 14) from February 16, 2015 using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.   Qatar Airways is also planning to increase its Dreamliner service to Edinburgh from five-times weekly to daily (ie. 7)  from May 2015.   As part of its expansion of flights to Europe, the airline will increase Doha to Copenhagen frequencies from 7 to 11 per week, while Doha-Stockholm services will go from 7 to 10 per week. Both changes will take affect from February 2015.  Link 


Airport boost from non-stop Toronto flight from Manchester


A non-stop flight from Manchester Airport to Toronto has been launched. The Air Canada rouge Toronto service will depart from Manchester 5 times per week.  Air Canada rouge is Air Canada’s leisure carrier subsidiary.  Robert Atkinson, Air Canada’s General Manager in the UK and northern Europe, said Manchester will benefit economically and jobs will be created. Air Canada previously operated a direct service between Manchester and Toronto in a joint venture with BMI between summer 2004 and September 2007. Mr Atkinson added: “As well as benefiting from direct access to our Toronto hub, customers in northern England will now be able to take advantage of convenient onward connections to destinations across North America, the Caribbean and Latin America.”  ie. passengers on the holidays will not need to go via a London hub airport.


More flights from Manchester to USA taking pressure off south east airports

Flights by American Airlines have started from Manchester to Charlotte in North Carolina, and will run every day until the end of September. Airport and airline bosses heralded the flight as a boost for both the airport and Manchester. The airline says “Manchester has been a hugely important city for American Airlines for many years and we are thrilled to add this flight to Charlotte…. It will bring in around 200 passengers every day…..Next year, we hope to run them for longer. In terms of American Airlines, we have a massive presence in the US and Charlotte is our second biggest hub. ….This is putting Manchester in line with our other destinations like Madrid and Rome.” American Airlines already flies from Manchester to Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. The airline CEO said most passengers are expected to originate from America – looking to fly into the north of England.”The biggest growth in airlines is down to people visiting friends and family, and Manchester has a catchment area of 22m.” More international flights from the regional airports mean less pressure to expand airports in the south east. Or to build a new south east runway. Manchester’s 2nd runway is hardly used.

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