Manchester Airport and Hallé Orchestra launch China trade mission with UKTI

18th September 2012

Manchester Airport’s ambition to secure a direct route to China has taken a further step forward by supporting Manchester’s world-famous Hallé Orchestra, as they announce their first tour to China and link up with a UKTI trade mission that aims to increase exports from the North West.

Senior executives from Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and The Hallé will be visiting China in October to promote the North West region. They have also joined forces with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to help promote the region’s businesses and potentially boost business relationships between the two countries.

UKTI, the government body which encourages British businesses to trade abroad, is looking for SMEs in the North West who want the chance to join the trip on a trade mission to China. Businesses that sign up may be eligible for government grants to help with travelling costs. They will have the opportunity to attend a reception at the British Ambassador’s residence in Beijing, and Hallé performances at the Poly Theatre and Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.

UKTI will help companies who join the trade mission to identify potential customers or partners in China, and to arrange meetings to sign up new business.

Clive Drinkwater, UKTI’s Regional Director in the North West, said: “The Hallé is renowned across the world and I’m sure the opportunity to meet some of the musicians, or to see a live performance, will be an extra incentive for Chinese businesses to do deals with firms in the North West.

“China is already one of our biggest customers but there’s still a lot more potential to increase exports to the country. The trade mission is open to all industries but may be of particular interest to the services sector, which currently makes up 44% of the Chinese economy.

“I’d encourage firms who are already doing a small amount of business with China, or who think there might be a market for them in the country, to sign up to the mission and help boost their exports.”

MAG, who also own two other airports in the UK (East Midlands and Bournemouth), is increasingly looking to growth markets in the Far East as its looks to widen its route network and a direct passenger service between Manchester and China is a strategic ambition for both MAG and its North West partners. MAG recently signed a partnership agreement with UBM Aviation, the owners of Airport Strategy & Marketing Ltd (ASM) and Routes, as part of its strategy to broaden the airline network into the growth market of Asia and they are providing advice and support in Asia as MAG looks to grow its offering.

In 2011, Manchester was named the sister airport to Beijing Capital International Airport – the second largest in the world, which handles 74 million passengers a year while also acting as a gateway to hundreds of other Far East destinations. MAG is also aiming to attract global firms to Airport City – the £650m Enterprise Zone project on the Manchester Airport site that is expected to create more than 10,000 full-time jobs in the region over the next 10-15 years.

Ken O’Toole, Chief Commercial Officer for MAG said: “We want to provide direct connectivity to China for the 200,000 thousand passengers who currently have to hub via London and beyond, this trade mission is an important step forward as part of our wider plans. Trade with China from the North West continues to increase so we are delighted to continue to support the world-renowned Halle Orchestra and showcase what the North West has to offer at the same time. Manchester airport is the North West's international gateway and we have much to offer airlines as they look to service this growing market. A direct service will be beneficial to the whole of Greater Manchester and every SME wanting to expand into the Asia Pacific region from the North.”

Manchester is already home to the third largest Chinese population in Europe as well as enjoying trade links that were worth over £4bn in 2010. The city’s Universities also attract the largest number of Chinese students all of which show the potential for growth and further investment through closer direct links.

The Hallé is delighted to be embarking on its first tour of mainland China. The three concerts – two in Beijing and one in Tianjin – offer the Orchestra the chance to bring their music to completely new audiences and to fly Manchester’s flag in the world’s most exciting new market. Their visit to China, with the UKTI trade mission, will showcase the excellence of Manchester’s cultural and business institutions.

Hallé Music Director and Principal Conductor Sir Mark Elder said: “This is an important and exciting opportunity for the Hallé, which would not have been possible without the long-term support of our principal sponsor Manchester Airport. In these challenging times, the close relationship between the Hallé and Manchester’s business community – which has existed from the Orchestra’s first concert 154 years ago – is more important than ever.”

Companies can find out more about joining the trade mission to China by calling UKTI North West on 0161 875 2328 or emailing


For more information, contact the MAG press office on 0161 489 2700 or email

Note to Editors:

Businesses that sign up to the trade mission will spend 11 days in China, from 6 to 16 October, visiting Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.

Manchester Airport is the largest airport outside London with over 190 destinations served by 65 airlines. Manchester Airport is part of the Manchester Airports Group plc (MAG), which is the second largest airport group in the UK and is made up of three airports - Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth - and currently handles more than 23 million passengers every year. For more information please visit

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000.

The Hallé was founded in Manchester by Sir Charles Hallé in 1858, the Hallé gave its first concert in the city’s Free Trade Hall on 30 January of that year. Sir Mark Elder became Music Director in 2000. The Hallé performs over 70 concerts a year in The Bridgewater Hall, its Manchester home, as well as making over 40 appearances annually throughout the rest of Britain. Last season over a quarter of a million people heard the Hallé, of which more than 44,000 were inspired by the Hallé’s pioneering education programme. Generating over 65 projects a year, it exists to create a wider enjoyment and understanding of music throughout the whole community. The Hallé is a registered charity. For more information please visit

Published on: 18/09/2012 13:30:35