The first Beijing-Manchester direct flight arrives at Manchester Airport on June 10, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
Trade and investment flows between China and Northern England soared following the launch of a new direct flight between Manchester and Beijing in June 2016, according to a new study unveiled on Monday.
The report, commissioned by business association Manchester China Forum and conducted by the economic consultancy Steer Davies Gleeve, found the value of goods exported by businesses from across Northern England via Manchester Airport to China increased by 265 percent year-on-year after the direct flight was launched, climbing to almost 200 million pounds($261 million) a month.
Chinese investments in Manchester's property market in 2016 grew by 54 percent compared to 2015.
As of April 2017, the pipeline of Chinese investment was capable of creating 850 new jobs in the Manchester region, the report said.
Part of the increase in trade and investment was attributed to smoother communication as a result of easier business travel.
The Manchester-Beijing route, which is operated by Hainan Airlines, runs daily during peak months. The route has so far carried 90,000 passengers. The report said the total number of passengers traveling from the Manchester area to Beijing rose by 20,415 to 74,055 per year since the introduction of the route.
Sun Dali, China's consul general for the North of England, said the direct route started at the right time and continues to develop cooperation between the North of England and China.
"I hope that the intercommunication between the UK and China continues to encourage more cooperation between China and the North of England, and that more Chinese people come here to set up businesses, study, travel, and have first-hand experiences in this unique and charming part of the world," said Sun.
Ryan Zhang, the UK general manager for Hainan Airlines, said the route has been one of the most successful the airline has launched in recent years.
"Manchester has proved to be an extremely popular destination for our Chinese customers, whether they be students, business travelers or people visiting friends and family based in the North of England or wider UK," he said.
John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, a government body, said the route is "a fantastic example of the economic value of direct access to markets and the North's ability to sustain such links".
The route has not only benefited trade links between China and Manchester, but also between China and the wider North of England region, which is branded by the UK government as the 'Northern Powerhouse' in an effort to revitalize growth in Northern England through infrastructure construction, which is set to become more important after Britain leaves the European Union.
In 2016, regions covered by the UK's Northern Powerhouse accounted for 25 percent of total UK exports to China, according to UK government data.
On Tuesday, a UK government delegation will host a 'Northern Powerhouse Day' at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai, to further promote trade and investment links between China and the region.