Direct flights from Manchester to Beijing, starting June 2016, announced on President Xi’s UK visit

Manchester airport started Cathay Pacific direct flights to Hong Kong in December 2014. Now with the state visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK, the first ever direct air link between Beijing and Manchester has been formally unveiled. President Xi was joined at the airport by David Cameron for the announcement of the Hainan Airlines service, which will fly four times per week, from June 2016.  There are the usual claims of huge impacts on the economy with the link contributing “£50m annually to the city’s economy” and the usual mentions of both economies being “open for business.” Also the “northern powerhouse.” There are also other “substantial cooperation agreements” being signed between the two countries, covering economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, scientific innovation, manufacturing and sports. The Manchester Airports Group has been keen to get direct Beijing flights for years, to link northern businesses to the Far East economies – and get high spending tourists. The Chinese state-owned Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG) has already invested heavily in Manchester’s “Airport City.”  There is also to be a £130 million ‘China Cluster’ to provide a commercial base for Chinese businesses arriving in the UK, based around two campuses within the Manchester Airport City development. 


Chinese President Announces New Manchester-Beijing Flight & £130m ‘Chinese Cluster’

“New flight could contribute £50m annually to the city’s economy”

by  Larry Neild (Manchester Confidential)

23 October 2015
THE first ever direct air link between Beijing and Manchester has been formally unveiled today by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is currently on a state visit to the UK. He was joined at the airport by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The ‘China Cluster’ will provide a commercial base for Chinese businesses.

The four-times-a-week service will be operated by China’s Hainan Airlines and will start next June, although, ahead of the announcement, ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming has revealed seats can already be booked on the Hainan website.

It is estimated the new flight could contribute £50m annually to the city’s economy.

The ambassador said: “Both China and the UK are open for business. Their respective strengths in economic and trade cooperation are well matched. During the state visit, President Xi will attend the launch of a new direct flight between Manchester and Bejing.

“These are on top of a host of substantial cooperation agreements to be signed between the two sides, covering economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, scientific innovation, manufacturing and sports.

“Together, they will catapult exchanges and cooperation between Manchester, the Northern Powerhouse and Chinese cities across the board.”

The new Manchester to Beijing flight could contribute £50m annually to the city’s economy
Securing a direct flight to China has been a long term ambition of both Manchester Airports Group and the city as a whole.

It will be seen as a huge shot in the arm to efforts to boost trade between the north of England and the fast-growing Far East economy. A direct link between Manchester and Hong Kong is already proving to be a success. That recently introduced flight was the first ever between Manchester and China.

But airport bosses at Manchester have always viewed direct flights to Beijing as the golden prize, with a direct link to Shanghai also on their wish list.

Credit for the Beijing link follows the launch of a Manchester-China Forum, which has worked behind the scenes for direct flights.

Mr Jinping and Mr Cameron also announced the launch of a new £130m ‘China Cluster’ at Manchester Airport’s proposed £800m business and industrial hub, Airport City, which aims to lure global firms to the giant business park. Airport City has already seen significant investment from the Chinese state-owned Beijing Construction and Engineering Group.

The ‘China Cluster’ will provide a commercial base for Chinese businesses arriving in the UK and will be based around two campuses within the Airport City development – Wuhan Square and Shenzhen Gardens.

Manchester Airport’s £800m Airport City will include a £130m ‘China Cluster’
Mr Dai Binbin, Chairman of Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG), said:

“Airport City Manchester is one of the best tangible examples of how Chinese investment is revolutionising Northern infrastructure.

“Since Airport City was launched in 2013, BCEG has been struck by the huge number of opportunities for Chinese investors in both the North West and across the wider UK.

“BCEG has been instrumental in conceiving the concept of the ‘China Cluster’ and believe it will prove to be a compelling platform from which ambitious Chinese companies can enter the UK and engage with one of the UK government’s key strategic priorities; the development of the Northern Powerhouse.”

BCEG has also recently invested in a major development programme by former Manchester United players Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.


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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 from Heathrow. The UK has always had good links to Hong Kong, for historical reasons.

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Manchester Airport City to boost its marketing efforts to attract global companies

February 7, 2014

Manchester airports “Airport City” says it will be a “£800 million landmark property development, creating a globally connected business destination” and a “vibrant economic hub with connectivity at its heart, the UK’s first Airport City will provide 5m sq ft of development, a mix of offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehousing. Airport City is expected to be one of the largest regeneration schemes in the UK since the 2012 Olympics redevelopment”. It executives are now trying to create thousands of jobs by luring global firms to the area. They have now appointed two Manchester marketing agencies,Start JudgeGill and theEword to “focus on a strong and impactful international strategy to take Airport City to key territories” such as China and the Middle East. Airport City sits at the heart of Greater Manchester’s Enterprise Zone, which means companies relocating there can get tax breaks and other incentives. Last year, a deal was done to secure investment in the scheme from the Beijing Construction and Engineering Group. Meanwhile work is starting on a 4th platform at the airport’s rail station, which the airport say is key to boosting passenger numbers, and luring businesses to its Airport City scheme.

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Birmingham Airport loses out to Manchester on China flights

23.10.2015 (ITV)

Birmingham Airport has lost out to Manchester Airport in securing direct scheduled flights to China, ITV News Central has learned.

Birmingham Airport has been talking to Hainan Airlines for some time about starting a scheduled service but the airline has decided to go to Manchester.

ITV News (Several video clips)

The news comes after the Chancellor George Osborne told ITV News Central in February that it was important to “back the skills” in the Midlands as a key driver of economic growth in the UK.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Birmingham Airport said:
“We have had two successful summers running a programme of charter flights to Beijing and we do not believe that this news will impact on next year’s charter service due to an established programme and strong relationship with the operator involved.

“We will continue to engage with a number of Chinese carriers to secure a direct scheduled link to China from Birmingham in the future.” – SPOKESPERSON, BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT