Star Alliance Connecting Partner Juneyao Airlines to launch flights from Manchester to Shanghai

Nov 20, 2019

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China’s Juneyao Airlines announced on Wednesday that it plans to operate flights from Shanghai to Manchester.

The airline will operate the route three times weekly from March 2020 using a two-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The business-class cabin features lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access for all passengers. The seats are reportedly Thompson Aero’s Vantage XL, which is the same as Delta offers on its A350s and Qantas has on its 787s.

Exact flight times have not been revealed, though the service will depart Manchester on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. The route will initially operate via Helsinki (HEL) in both directions, creating a unique fifth-freedom flight between Manchester and Helsinki.

Earlier this year, Juneyao announced plans for direct services from London (Heathrow) to Shanghai. Though this service was supposed to commence in July 2019, there have been no updates to the London plans in more than six months. The delay may well have been caused by Heathrow’s notoriously expensive and difficult to acquire landing and takeoff slots. As a result, Juneyao does not currently operate to the U.K., so this new Manchester service may well be its first U.K. flights, as Manchester does not have the capacity restrictions that Heathrow does.

Manchester Airport said of the announcement: “We are delighted that Juneyao Air has recognised everything the north has to offer, in terms of its business base, natural and cultural assets and world-leading universities when choosing to launch this new service”. The airport already has direct services to Beijing with Hainan Airlines and to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, but this is the only current flight to Shanghai — noting it will be direct, but not nonstop.

Juneyao 787 Business Class. (Photo courtesy of Thompson Aero)

Juneyao is one of the first Connecting Partners of Star Alliance, which is great news for Star Alliance passengers. While not a full alliance member, Star Alliance Gold status passengers can enjoy the following benefits when flying with Juneyao:

  • Lounge access
  • Fast track security
  • Additional baggage
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority standby
  • Priority baggage delivery

If Juneyao were a full member of Star Alliance, passengers would be able to earn and redeem miles with Juneyao. However, because Juneyao is only a connecting partner, this is limited to the following loyalty programmes:

  • All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  • Air China
  • Air Canada
  • EVA Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines

While this is not a list of every Star Alliance programme, it includes some programmes that we believe are useful and lucrative to UK passengers — like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and United MileagePlus. Singapore’s KrisFlyer programme is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards in the U.K.

The new route has not yet been loaded on the airline’s site, though you can expect to pay 45,000 miles in economy or 75,000 miles in business class each way from Manchester to Shanghai when using United miles, or 50,000 miles in economy or 111,000 miles in business class each way if using Singapore miles. It is likely passengers will also be able to book the short Manchester to Helsinki leg separately as a fifth-freedom option.

Featured image by Juneyao Airlines

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