Northern Windfall: Manchester Airport Gains Direct Flights to Shanghai

A Juneyao Airlines 787 approaching to land.
Colin Cooke Photo, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manchester Airport is poised to become a key player in connecting the North of England with this week’s launch of a new direct route to Shanghai, China’s financial hub.

Manchester takes flight – not just literally with the inaugural flight to Shanghai. It also positions the North of England by strengthening its connection to a major global market.

This exciting development, spearheaded by Manchester Airport and Juneyao Airlines, promises to be a game-changer for the region’s economy.

First Direct Route Manchester-Shanghai

Juneyao Air’s inaugural flight from Shanghai to Manchester marks a historic moment for the region. It establishes the first direct connection between Northern England and China’s financial capital.

The three-times-a-week service operates on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, offering both business and economy class options.

Previously, travelers from Northern England faced a cumbersome journey to reach China’s bustling financial hub.

Juneyao Air’s new service cuts through this complexity, offering a direct three-times-a-week connection.

This inaugural flight marks a historic moment, establishing the first-ever direct route between the North of England and Shanghai.

Passengers can choose between business and economy class on modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, making the journey comfortable and efficient.

Staff of Manchester Airport and Juneyao Airlines celebrate the launch of  Manchester flights to Shanghai

Tourism Boom on the Horizon

The timing of this new route couldn’t be more perfect. China has reclaimed its crown as the world’s top spender on international tourism. In 2024, pent-up demand after the pandemic has remained at an all-time high.

The flights are already experiencing strong booking numbers, a promising sign for the future of the route.

Tourists from China are known for spending more than the average visitor. This bodes well for businesses and attractions across the North.

From the historical sites of York to the scenic beauty of the Lake District, the region has a lot to offer. Destinations like Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, a haven for luxury brands, are particularly excited about welcoming Chinese visitors.

A Juneyao Airlines 787 approaching to land.
Colin Cooke Photo, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Gateway for Trade and Investment

The economic benefits extend far beyond tourism. The direct connection to Shanghai opens doors for increased trade and investment between the North of England and China.

Manchester and the surrounding areas already have established ties with China, evident in the large and vibrant Chinese community.

The region boasts a strong manufacturing base and a growing tech sector, making it an attractive partner for Chinese businesses.

Additionally, 43 universities within a two-hour radius of Manchester Airport are popular destinations for Chinese students.

The new route is expected to further strengthen these educational links. It also means the creation of new opportunities for collaboration in research and innovation.

Regional Businesses Take Off

Companies across the North are poised to benefit significantly from this new route. Time and resources will be saved, as exemplified by SpaceZero, a Manchester design firm already trading with China.

SpaceZero CEO Wayne Taylor highlights the route’s potential. He explains that it will “remove considerable hassle” and “reduce the carbon footprint by 50%.”

This sentiment is echoed by Chris Fletcher, Policy Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who believes the route is “transformational”. He said it sends “a very clear message about the region’s intentions.”

Easier access to China’s financial center is expected to attract investment, further fueling the North’s economic engine.

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Manchester Airport as a Global Hub

The launch of the Manchester-Shanghai route strengthens Manchester Airport’s position as a major transportation hub outside of London.

The success story of the previous Beijing route serves as a precedent. It has demonstrated the positive impact such direct connections can have.

Industry experts predict that Manchester Airport will surpass pre-pandemic departure levels in 2024, solidifying its role as a key player in the UK’s aviation network.

This development signifies a shift in the country’s economic landscape, with the North taking center stage in attracting international investment and trade.

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Photo Credit: Manchester Airport.


The significance of the new Manchester flights extends beyond immediate economic benefits. It fosters cultural exchange, strengthens education links, and opens doors for collaboration in various sectors.

This newfound accessibility will undoubtedly lead to a deeper understanding between the North of England and China.

This increased accessibility will drive the region’s long-term prosperity for years to come.

The launch of the Manchester-Shanghai route is a historic milestone, not just for aviation, but for the North of England as a whole.

It marks a pivotal moment in the Northern region’s journey towards becoming a global economic powerhouse.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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