A jump in passengers flying to and from Beijing in the second half of last year has been reported by Manchester airport.
Further growth is projected this year as Hainan Airlines raises frequency in June from four flights a week to a daily service.
The carrier resumed flights to the Chinese capital in late 2022 after an extended hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Passenger levels doubled over the first full year of the route’s resumption with 32,933 using the route in the second half of 2023 – up from 16,186 in the first half of the year.
A partnership with Loganair means passengers from Aberdeen, Inverness, the Isle of Man and Newquay can connect via airside transfer at Manchester to Beijing.
More than 117,000 passengers also flew between Manchester and Hong Kong last year, with Cathay Pacific operating four flights a week.
Manchester has one of the UK’s oldest and largest Chinese communities and celebrates the Lunar New Year with a parade through the city centre to Chinatown, including airport staff.
Manchester China Forum executive director Rhys Whalley said: “Hainan Airlines’ decision to take the Manchester-Beijing route daily this summer is not only a vote of confidence in the prospects for post-pandemic two-way traffic, but also in the airline’s conviction that the region will serve as a key gateway for Chinese businesses, students and visitors entering the UK market.
“This weekend’s Lunar New Year celebrations will once again see tens of thousands gather in Manchester’s Chinatown to welcome in the new year.
“As some of the largest scale celebrations in Europe; this will provide local residents, the thousands of Chinese students studying across the region as well as the ever-growing Chinese business community, an opportunity to come together to welcome in the year of the Dragon.”