The launch of a new route from Manchester to Shanghai with Juneyao Air is set to bring a major economic and cultural boost to the north west.

The first ever direct service from to China's key financial city will launch on July 1 and has been welcomed by business and community leaders.

Flights will run three times every week on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft with business and economy classes.

Chester and District Standard: Manchester Airport Terminal 2 check-in hallManchester Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall (Image: Manchester Airport)

The route was announced in 2019 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

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.

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

The route is expected to open up fresh trade and investment opportunities for businesses, as well as stimulating tourism in both directions.

It will give hundreds of thousands of Chinese students a year access to the more than 40 universities within two hours of the airport.

Chester and District Standard: It adds to more than 200 destinations already available from Manchester AirportIt adds to more than 200 destinations already available from Manchester Airport (Image: Manchester Airport)It adds to the more than 200 destinations available from Manchester, 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.

“It  will make it even easier for people from China to 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, 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 Wang Junjin said: "I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all partners and passengers for their support over the years.

“I 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 Chinese, a rise of 43 per cent compared to 2018.

A further 8,000 Chinese people live in Liverpool, 7,000 in Sheffield and 6,000 in Leeds.

The new route will complement the existing service with Hainan Airways to Beijing.

When the route from Manchester to Beijng was launched in 2016 export values from Manchester Airport to China grew 41 per cent 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."

Kenny Murray, general manager of Cheshire Oaks, said: “Chinese visitors make up a significant percentage of our overall footfall, seeking the premium and luxury UK brands - such as Burberry and Mulberry - which we offer.

“We welcome the news of the launch of direct flights and look forward to seeing guests from Shanghai in the near future."