The launch of a new airline route from Manchester to Shanghai with Juneyao Air has been backed to deliver a major economic and cultural boost by business and community leaders across Greater Manchester and the wider North.

The service is the first ever from the North of England to Shanghai. It will launch on 1 July, running three times per week on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. The flights will operate on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft with business and economy classes.

Juneyao has chosen Manchester as its first UK destination, building on its status as the only English airport outside London with a direct service to China’s mainland and cementing the region’s reputation as the Gateway to the North.

Shanghai is China’s biggest city and its financial hub, with around 185,000 people from across the North already travelling there indirectly each year.

The route is tipped to open up fresh trade and investment opportunities for businesses across the North, as well as stimulating tourism in both directions and giving hundreds of thousands of Chinese students a year access to the more than 40 universities within two hours of Manchester Airport.

It adds to the more than 200 destinations available from Manchester Airport, cementing its reputation as the UK’s global gateway in the North.

Manchester Airport managing director Chris Woodroofe said: 

“We are proud to connect the North to the world, whether that’s for tourism, leisure or to help family and friends visit each other. 

“The fact that Jueyao Air has chosen Manchester as its first UK service is a huge boost to the region for so many reasons. It will allow people to travel and see one of the world’s most incredible cities, open up opportunities for business and trade with China’s financial hub and help the North’s Chinese community connect with their family and friends. 

“On top of all that. Make it even easier for people from China to access the North and sample everything we have to offer, from Manchester’s thriving cultural and sports scenes, to the beautiful scenery of the Lakes, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.

“Not only will visitors from Shanghai get access to the great cities and regions of the North, including, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, North Wales and the Scottish borders, this route will give them a great new entry point to the UK as a whole. 

“We look forward to working with Juneyao to make this route a success.” 


Juneyao Air Chairman Mr Wang Junjin said: 

“In late 2019, we announced the launch of the Shanghai-Manchester route in cooperation with Manchester Airport; but we had to postpone the flight schedule due to the pandemic. However, our internationalisation strategy never ends. 

“I am delighted to see that with the joint efforts of all parties, the Shanghai-Manchester route will resume this July, becoming the first direct scheduled passenger route between Shanghai and Manchester. 

“On behalf of Juneyao Air, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all partners and passengers for their support over the years. I also hope this route will bring more business opportunities and flexible travel options to all passengers, and promote economic exchanges between Shanghai and Manchester, as well as between China and the UK.” 

Manchester has long-standing links to China. It is home to one of the country’s biggest and most well-established Chinese communities. Manchester’s Chinatown was first established more than 100 years ago and the city’s first Chinese restaurant – the Ping Hong in Mosley Street – opened in 1948.

According to the 2011 Census more than 13,500 Chinese residents live in Manchester, more than any city in the UK outside London. This has significantly grown since then and now includes more than 9,000 Chinese students – around one in nine of the student population in Manchester is now Chines, a rise of 43% compared to 2018.

A further 8,000 Chinese people live in Liverpool, 7,000 in Sheffield and 6,000 in Leeds. The routes between Manchester and Beijing have been popular with communities across the North.

The North is also a hugely popular tourist destination for people from China, with millions of visitor from the country using Manchester as a base to explore the entire region every year. The new route will complement the existing service with Hainan Airways to Beijing.

The regional impact of the new route will be significant. When a route from Manchester to Beijng was first launched in 2016 export values from Manchester Airport to China grew 41% to £1.29bn and enquiries about investment in the area from China doubled in the two years that followed.

Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:

“This new route is key to strengthening economic links between China and Northern businesses both sides of the Pennines.

“We know capital from Asia has been crucial to the rise in foreign direct investment we’ve seen to the North of England in recent years.

“Direct long-haul connectivity through Manchester Airport is key to building on that success and growing the Northern Powerhouse global brand.”


China’s Consul General to Manchester Tang said:

“I am delighted to learn that Juneyao Air will launch the Manchester-Shanghai route in July. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester, I extend heartfelt congratulations.

“We are confident that this new route will significantly enhance people-to-people exchanges between our two countries and promote collaboration across diverse sectors including economy, trade, culture and education, not only between Shanghai and Greater Manchester but also between China and the North of England.”


Victoria Braddock, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester said:

“With strong links already well-established between Greater Manchester and China, we are delighted that Juneyao Air are opening a new thrice-weekly direct route between Manchester and Shanghai this summer. Increasing the number of weekly flights between Manchester and China to 15, this enhanced connectivity will offer a significant boost to the visitor economy, as demonstrated by the region’s pre-pandemic spend of £260m.

“In addition to the economic benefits, the increase in flight frequency will create new possibilities for trade and tourism throughout the region, providing a boost to sectors such as accommodation, retail, restaurant, and attractions. Additionally, this increased service will be crucial in supporting Manchester’s role as the UK’s global gateway in the North and will continue to serve the region’s large Chinese population, promoting cultural exchange, and providing greater work, study, and investment opportunities.”


Rhys Whalley, Executive Chair of the Manchester China Forum said:

“Juneyao Air’s recently announced direct route between Manchester and Shanghai is fantastic news for both cities as well as the surrounding regions.

“The new connection will the UK’s largest airport outside of London will build on strong existing links between the Northern cities and the Yangtze River Economic Belt; including sister city partnerships between Liverpool and Shanghai, Leeds and Hangzhou as well as York and Nanjing.

“Greater Manchester already has some incredible touch points into Shanghai – including a wide range of businesses stemming from Shanghai’s catchment as well as being home to a sizeable Chinese student population, the mainland headquarters of the Alliance Manchester Business School and Manchester City Football Club’s China Commercial team.

“With a population of over 30 million, Shanghai and its neighbouring areas are powerhouses for economic activity but also cultural vibrance and diversity. This route will without question open up huge opportunities for the people of Greater Manchester and the wider North in further deepening ties across businesses, education, tourism and beyond.”