Hainan Airlines have announced plans to increase capacity on flights between Manchester and Beijing by upgrading to a larger aircraft.
During the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping in October last year, it was revealed that Manchester would get the UK’s first direct link to mainland China outside of London, with flights running four times every week.
At that time, the route was expected to carry 250 passengers per flight. But now, with an increase to 32 business class seats and 260 economy seats, the flight will carry 292 passengers in total.
The increase of 42 passengers per flight, or 336 per week when both inbound and outbound flights are included, will help to accommodate demand between the two countries.
Xie Haoming, chairman at 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.”
Stephen Turner, commercial director at Manchester Airport, said: “It is excellent news that Hainan Airlines is increasing the number of seats on its four flights a week to Beijing. This gives the 22m people in our catchment area more choice and availability on what we believe will be an incredibly popular route.
“Feedback from passengers tells us that people want to fly from their local airport and this new route allows them to do just that whether on business or leisure.”
The route is estimated to be worth at least £250 million in economic benefits to the UK over the next ten years according to Manchester Airport, with two-thirds being felt directly in the northern economy in terms of increased jobs, economic activity and tourism.
The journey between the two cities is expected to take ten hours and the direct flight will generate journey time savings of £5 million each year for business passengers.