Manchester Airport is to begin flying directly to Shanghai, China, in a move said to be set to hand a massive boost to Sino-UK trade.
Chinese carrier Juneyao Air has chosen Manchester for its first ever UK service, which will operate three-times-a-week using the state-of-the-art Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner.
Some 40,000 people from Yorkshire travel each year to Shanghai, China’s biggest city and one of the planet’s top five global financial centres.
Read more: A new golden era for Yorkshire/China trade
Read more: All today's Yorkshire business news
The news has been hailed as “a key step towards making the North one of the world’s most globally competitive regions” and is tipped to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of trade, investment and tourism benefits.
Business, tourism and cultural leaders say the link will stimulate further valuable connections between the Far East and all parts of the North.
Martin Hathaway, Managing Director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Having increased connections to China is great news for businesses across Yorkshire so I’m delighted to hear Manchester Airport will soon be launching flights to Shanghai.
“Businesses throughout Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield will benefit from faster and more direct connectivity to Shanghai, and the potential impact this will have on exports, tourism, students and jobs is substantial.”
Manchester Airport began a direct service to China’s capital Beijing three years ago, a service which was independently assessed to have brought the region a 38 per cent increase in the number of Chinese visitors and boosted the average spend per visit by 94 per cent, much higher than the national average.
The Beijing-Manchester route also boosted export values between Yorkshire and China by 41 per cent, with airport bosses expecting the Shanghai route to create similar opportunities.
Michelle Brown, Marketing Manager, Visit York, said: “We are delighted to hear that this new route is confirmed from Shanghai to Manchester which will bring even more connectivity to the North of England.
“In York over the past three years since the Beijing route launched, we’ve seen a massive impact on our inbound Chinese visitor figures, ranking now as the second highest overseas market to York after the US.
“This is also great news in terms of access to Nanjing, our sister city, which is just a short train ride away from
Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “Forging closer links between China and the Northern Powerhouse is crucial to increasing the contribution the North makes to the UK economy and reinforces the role of Manchester Airport as the global, long-haul gateway to the North – a Heathrow for the North bringing investment, growth and skilled jobs to the region.
“This new route to Shanghai and others including to the US and Bangladesh, is not simply about connecting the people of the North West to the world.
“It is a chance for all of the Northern Powerhouse’s 15 million people to create new opportunities for them and their families.”
Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan said: “This news underlines the critical role Manchester Airport plays in connecting people and businesses across the North to the world’s most important markets.