China’s President, Xi Jinping is expected to formally confirm a new Hainan Airlines link between Beijing and Manchester as part of his four day visit to the UK. The visit from October 20-23, 2015 is the first by a Chinese head of state to the UK since Hu Jintao flew to the UK in 2005 and has been lauded as establishing a “golden era” of bilateral relations and strengthening economic and financial ties between the two countries.
The introduction of a scheduled link from Manchester to China has been under discussion for a long time and there has been increased speculation over the past couple of years that an agreement is imminent. There was a suggestion that the route would have been launched this year, but issues with the crewing of its Airbus A330 fleet is understood to have delayed a final deal being agreed with Hainan Airlines.
However, we can now confirm that the airline is ready to start the route in summer 2016 and just as China’s leader arrived in the UK, it loaded schedules for a new four times weekly Beijing – Manchester flight into the GDS, launching from June 10, 2016. This will be flown using an Airbus A330-200.
Here’s the proposed flight schedule for the service as loaded in the GDS...
Beijing – Manchester – Beijing
HU7903 PEK0145 – 0605MAN 330 x247
HU7904 MAN1200 – 0525+1PEK 330 x247
President Xi Jinping is due in Manchester on October 23, 2015, the final day of his state visit. He is scheduled to visit the National Graphene Institute at Manchester University with UK chancellor George Osborne and will join the Prime Minister, David Cameron at Manchester City’s stadium, followed by lunch at Manchester town hall hosted by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, and attended by civic and business representatives.
Both Cameron and Xi will then attend an event at Manchester Airport when details of the new flight are expected to be announced. This event could also be the location for an announcement on a rumoured investment by Hanian Airlines parent, HNA Group, on the acquisition of a majority stake in MAG Airports.
This suggestion on the airport deal has been fuelled by HNA Group, Chief Executive Officer, Cheng Feng being among the 150-member entrepreneurial delegation that is accompanying Xi on his visit to the UK. This business delegation includes CEOs and senior executives from various crucial commercial sectors including finance, infrastructure, energy, the automotive industry, aviation, insurance, culture, as well as investment, according to Chinese reports.