After months of secrecy Cathay Pacific has announced the introduction of direct flights between Manchester and Hong Kong, starting March 27 next year.
Unusually, Cathay's flight will make a stopover en route at Moscow'sSheremetyevo Airport. The carrier has secured traffic rights both for Manchester-Moscow and Moscow-Hong Kong allowing passengers to travel just on one leg of the route.
This could be lucrative for Cathay. It's expected to prove popular not just with UK travellers flying to Hong Kong and beyond, but also to those based in the Midlands and the North seeking a non-stop service to Moscow. Currently, UK passengers must travel from London if they want to take a direct flight.
A further bonus is the fact that Cathay will be offering a long-haul business class product with lie-flat style seating which is superior to British Airways' short-haul Club Europe product between Heathrow and Moscow.
With limited direct flights between Moscow and Asia, Cathay's new service will appeal to Russian business people forging closer ties within the Pearl River Delta and who may have plans to travel further afield within the Asia-Pacific region.
Flights will operate three times a week (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) in either direction on an Airbus A340-300 configured for business and economy class. Departures from Hong Kong will be at 00.15 arriving in Manchester at 08.55 the same day. The return service from Manchester departs at 10.00 arriving Hong Kong at 08.10 the following day.
For more information go to www.cathaypacific.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter