China’s fourth largest carrier Hainan Airlines has resumed flights between Beijing and Manchester, the United Kingdom, for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flights will be operated once a week on a Monday, with Manchester becoming the only gateway outside of London to offer a direct service to mainland China.
The airline will use its Airbus A330 aircraft on this route.
“It is extremely positive to see critical routes like this return to our departure boards and we look forward to working closely with Hainan Airlines to build on the previous success of this route,” Chris Woodroofe, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said.
According to the airport, 100,000 passengers traveled on this route each year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to a strict Zero-COVID policy in China, the outbound service to Beijing will not be direct and initially stop in the Chinese city of Dalian. But the inbound service will be direct from Beijing to Manchester.
The agreement to resume Manchester flights came a week after China and the UK agreed to resume direct passenger flights between the two countries.
China eased the rules for international COVID-19 flight suspensions. On August 7, 2022, China shortened the flight ban period for incoming flights with passengers onboard that are positive for COVID-19 from two weeks to a week.
China is considered to be one of the strictest places in the world in terms of travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic. As part of the country’s strict zero-COVID policy, millions of people in China were placed under lockdown.
Even though China is slowly easing travel restrictions for international flights, passengers wanting to get into the country are still facing some of the world’s toughest restrictions.