First direct UK-China flight outside London takes off

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Media captionThe aircraft was given a water cannon salute upon departure

The UK's first direct scheduled flight to China from outside London has taken off from Manchester Airport.

The Hainan Airlines route to Beijing was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the UK in October.

Prime Minister David Cameron said at the time that the Northern Powerhouse project has "Chinese backing".

The new 10.5-hour route to the Chinese capital will fly four times per week.

It makes Manchester the only airport outside of London with a scheduled non-stop service to mainland China.

Heathrow Airport has been flying direct since November 1980.

Mr Cameron and President Xi also announced a £130m "China Cluster" project at Airport City Manchester, which will provide a commercial base for Chinese businesses arriving in the UK.

Manchester Airport confirmed that Air China is also planning a direct Manchester to China route, but congestion at Shanghai Pudong International Airport is causing delays in the launch.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Xi and his wife ended their October trip to the UK at Manchester Airport

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