Business leaders and university bosses say a new direct flight from Manchester to Beijing will deliver a major boost to the North.
Hainan Airlines will start flying to the Chinese capital this Friday - believed to be the first ever direct service from the North to mainland China.
Currently, it is estimated more than 24,000 people from Sheffield fly to mainland China every year via London or overseas hubs.
It is estimated the Hainan route - which will take 10.5 hours - will deliver an economic boost to the UK worth £250million.
The four-times-a-week service will make Manchester the only airport outside London with a direct year-round scheduled service to mainland China.
It will be served by an Airbus A330-300 with 32 business class seats and 260 in economy.
Ken O’Toole, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: “We know how important direct access to key markets like China is to stimulating trade and tourism for regions across the North.
“Yorkshire has a strong business base covering a diverse range of sectors, with many companies already trading in the Far East, and so the existence of a non-stop route to Beijing will be of significant benefit.
“In addition, the service will hopefully encourage more businesses to start exporting to this key market for the first time.”
The launch is backed by Dr David Smith, interim director of Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, John Lester, managing director of CISDI UK, a subsidiary of Chinas global engineering giant CISDI, and Jenni Saville, head of the University of Sheffield’s International Office.