Hainan Airlines announces increased capacity on Manchester route prior to launch

A change of aircraft – Airbus 330-200 to A330-300 – will see an increased capacity on the Beijing - Manchester route, set to launch later this year. The new aircraft will be able to carry 292 passengers: 32 in Business Class and 260 in Economy.

Hainan Airlines have announced a change of aircraft to their Manchester-Beijing route, which is due to launch in June 2016. The change of Airbus will increase capacity on the route, operating four times a week. Manchester is only airport outside of London with a direct scheduled service to China.

This is confirmation of a story first revealed by our Airline Route blog, back in January.

Xie Haoming, Chairman of 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 focussed 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 economic benefits of the direct service to Beijing from Manchester have an estimated worth of at least £250 million  to the UK over the next decade – two thirds of this will be felt directly in the Northern economy, resulting in increased jobs, economic activity and tourism. Benefits of the route will also be generated in terms of productivity, increased trade and collaboration, and increased foreign direct investment. For business passengers, journey time savings will be worth an estimated £5 million every year.

China has become the second largest import partner of the UK, behind America. The importance of China as a trading partner has increased consistently since 2004, with a growth of £11.4 billion to £37.6 billion in 2014. China accounted for seven per cent of UK imports in 2014, in comparison to just 3.3 per cent in 2004. China are also the world’s second largest economy as a proportion of global GDP, behind America. Between 1993 and 2013, Chinese GDP rose from $0.44 trillion to $9.42 trillion, with the share of global GDP rising from 1.7 per cent to 12.2 per cent

Upon the announcement of the route, in October 2015, His Exellency Xi Jinping also launched the £130 million ‘China Cluster’ project at Airport City Manchester. The project aims to be a hub for Chinese businesses to invest in the North, providing them with expansion opportunities to support future growth, and aims to offer improved availability with several plots available for development. The scheme is based around two campuses within the Airport City development – Wuhan Square and Shenzhen Gardens – both specifically designed with Chinese businesses in mind.

Airport City Manchester was launched in Beijing 2013, following the airport city model implemented in the likes of Barcelona and Frankfurt, with the aim of stimulating the Greater Manchester economy. Manchester Airport is the first in the UK to build airport city, and the third busiest airport in the UK after Heathrow and Gatwick in London, making it the international gateway for Northern England. Airport City is a £800 million business and industrial hub, with aims to lure global firms to the business park. It is a joint venture between Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Beijing Construction Engineering (BCEG), Cavillion and Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

Mr Dai Binbin, Chairman of BCEG said: “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.”

In the 2015 calendar year, Hainan Airlines announced new international long haul routes in addition to the Manchester-Beijing service. These comprised Chongqing to Rome, Beijing to San Jose, Shanghai to Boston, Shanghai to Seattle and Beijing to Prague.