Hainan Airlines has confirmed that it will launch flights to the UK next summer.
The new Beijing-Manchester flights, which were first revealed in Travel Daily Asia last week, have now been officially announced as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK.
Hainan Airlines held a press conference at Manchester Airport on 23 October, with President Xi, British Prime Minister David Cameron, HNA Group chairman Chen Feng, Hainan Airlines president Xie Haoming and Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish.
The press conference was the last event attended by President Xi before he departed the UK.
“As a company born in China and now actively expanding into international markets, Hainan Airlines is doing its bit to assure the success of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative and has progressively been adding non-stop flights connecting China with Europe over the last few years. I believe that the Beijing-Manchester route that will be launched will serve to create a new air bridge,” said Feng.
Commencing in June 2016, Hainan Airlines’ new service will operate four times a week, departing Beijing every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 0145 and arriving in Manchester at 0605. The return service will then leave the UK city at 1200 and arrive back in Beijing at 0525 the next day. The route will be operated using a 222-seat, two-class Airbus A330 aircraft.
“The new route is expected to inject over GBP250 million (US$384m) into the UK economy,” said Cornish. “Manchester Airport is the international gateway to the north of English and an important factor in the country’s effort to revitalise the region. Launching of the new route will help the North of England attract more investment from China and make the region significantly more accessible to Chinese businessmen and executives.”
Manchester will become Hainan Airlines’ sixth European destination (not including Russia), following Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Prague.