Manchester becomes only airport outside of London to offer direct route to ChinaCathay Pacific Airways saw its first flight to Hong Kong take off from Manchester Airport yesterday. The departure of the inaugural flight sees Manchester become the only UK airport outside of London to offer a non-stop direct route to China.
Not only will Cathay Pacific’s new route open up exciting opportunities for both North West-based businesses and leisure travellers wanting to explore China and beyond, but it is also set to put Manchester and the region firmly on the map for visitors from China. Cathay Pacific serves 190 destinations globally via Hong Kong International Airport, including 22 destinations within mainland China.
The route has already been heralded as a great opportunity to help stimulate economic growth in the North West, and supports the development of Airport City Manchester, which has a joint venture partner from China and will benefit businesses looking to export or trade with the Asia Pacific region.
As of yesterday, the airline, which for 68 years has been Hong Kong’s pre-eminent carrier and was this year named World’s Best Airline by Skytrax, will be flying four-times per week between Manchester and Hong Kong. Inbound flights will arrive in Manchester from Hong Kong at 0620, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights will depart from Manchester the same day, departing at 1200 and will arrive in Hong Kong at 0755 every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
A new codeshare between Cathay Pacific and Flybe has also been announced, strengthening Cathay Pacific’s position to connect regional customers with ‘One Stop to the World’ routes. On sale now and with departures starting from 11 December 2014, customers travelling from Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Exeter, Inverness, Isle of Man and Southampton to Manchester will be able to book a flight with Cathay Pacific. With just one airline ticket, customers will be assured of a seamless connection onto Cathay Pacific’s new four times a week direct flight from Manchester to Hong Kong. Customers can take full use of this partnership through bookings via the Cathay Pacific website or through local travel agents.
Focused on delivering greater connectivity and convenience to beyond Hong Kong and China, Cathay Pacific’s non-stop flight to Hong Kong is just 12 hours. The airline also offers the fastest flight between Manchester and Sydney and sales are already exceeding expectations for this route. Cathay Pacific’s flight from Manchester to Sydney takes 21.50 hours whilst Emirates (next fastest from Manchester) takes 22:10 hours.
Manchester Airport is the UK’s third biggest airport, the international gateway to the North of England, with over 21.8 million passengers per year, serving 200 plus global destinations. Coupled with the £800m Airport City development on site, it is a powerful international transport and business hub.
Passengers flying between Manchester and Hong Kong can enjoy the comfort of Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft featuring its highly acclaimed cabin products, including the award-winning Business Class, Premium Economy Class and the new Economy Class seats. Together with the premium service provided by Cathay Pacific’s cabin crew and a state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system in all classes, passengers will be provided with the best experience when they travel between Manchester and Hong Kong.
Angus Barclay, General Manager Europe at Cathay Pacific, commented: "Today’s first flight marks an exciting period for not only the airline, but also for the North West region as it brings opportunities to build strong links between the UK and China from both a business and leisure perspective.
“This will be the only non-stop direct service from Manchester to Hong Kong; Cathay Pacific offers passengers even more choice and flexibility and, at the same time, will boost Manchester’s standing as an international hub.”
Angus continued: “We already operate five flights a day from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and the addition of the Manchester route provides a real opportunity to help stimulate economic growth in the North West.”
Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said: “It is an incredibly important and exciting day here at Manchester Airport and a delight to see our direct flights to China commence.
“Obtaining the route has been a key objective of ours for several years and to achieve it two years ahead of schedule is testament to the continued growth, development and role Manchester Airport has to play in UK aviation.
“Furthermore it is pleasing to see such strong load factors on the first flights, proving that demand for direct services is well and truly here in the North West, from the 100,000 people within our region, who currently travel to Hong Kong via London or other European hubs.”
The £800m Airport City Manchester development already has Chinese businesses based on site with the new route set to provide easy, direct and year round access from the North West. Airport City’s unique selling point is connectivity and the new route offers the perfect link for businesses looking to work more closely with China, or Chinese businesses looking for an entry point in the UK.
Cathay Pacific is committed to the region, and will be supporting a range of local initiatives in Manchester in the coming year including Chinese New Year and the Manchester International Festival.