LONDON – Manchester Airport (MAN) has celebrated the Chinese New Year with an important passenger number increase to that particular market.

The Chinese and Far East market has been a significant focus for the airport over the past few years, with carriers such as Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific growing substantially out of the airport.

Passenger numbers for the Chinese market in the last 12 months has grown 17%, with more than 260,000 passengers traveling to Beijing and Hong Kong collectively.

184,000 passengers flew to Hong Kong whereas 76,000 flew to Beijing alike.

Andrew Cowan, the CEO of Manchester Airport, commented on the market increase, saying that “China has unlocked a wide range of cultural and economic benefits for the region”.

“This year’s Chinese New Year activity will provide an opportunity to celebrate those links and I look forward to sharing the celebrations with our customers during the period,” he said.

“I’d like to thank all the 260,000 passengers who have flown through Manchester Airport to China in the last year and hope those travelling over Chinese New Year enjoy the activity we have planned.”

Cathay Pacific launched operations back in 2015 using its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Photo: Clement Alloing

Nowadays, we see the route operated by either the Airbus A350-900 or the A350-1000, depending on demand.

The General Manager for Europe of the airline, James Ginns, also took opportunity to comment on the milestones.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and everyone in Manchester and the surrounding region a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year of the Pig.”

“Our hugely popular daily flight from Manchester to Hong Kong and beyond into China and Asia connects our customers in the north really conveniently with friends and family at this important time of the year,” Ginns said.

The Hainan Airlines Beijing route is operated by the Airbus A330-300, although the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has made presences at the airport as well.

The first six months of this particular route were very successful, with load factors of over 90%.Olivier Yang, the General Manager of Hainan in the UK labelled this route as a “great partnership”.

“Our direct flight between Manchester and Beijing began as a great partnership between Hainan Airlines, China and Manchester Airport that continues to flourish,” he said.

“Manchester and the North West are strategically very important in the future development of this relationship,” added Yang.

“Our partners at Manchester Airport continue to support our expansion and progress in the UK market and we’re very proud to be the only airline offering direct flights from mainland China to Manchester,” he concluded.

The increases are set to continue in this specific market, with a recent report, dubbed the Chinese Dividend that is in its second edition, recording an increase of Chinese visitors to the North at 38%.

Manchester Airport

This, therefore, highlights a high demand for Manchester, especially with the high level of Chinese students in the University districts.

Number of Chinese students in the Greater Manchester area has grown 9% compared to the national growth of 4% in two years.

That being said, it remains clear that the Chinese market out of Manchester will continue to growth at double digit percentages.

It will be interesting to see whether any further Chinese routes are announced and whether we could see any new players on the scene.

Over the past few years, there was significant speculation about Air China potentially taking on Hainan Airlines for Chinese market share but that has since died down.

As the Transformation Programme continues at the airport, it will no doubt attract some different airlines to use the extended capacity that will be available over the next few years.