Find peace and beauty in the Isle of Man, or discover the unexpected ancient culture of China’s “iPhone City”, Zhengzhou. As clocks go forward and airline timetables change, two more destinations have gained links with Heathrow.
From 21st April
It’s almost 20 years since Heathrow last had non-stop flights to the Isle of Man. But from 21st April, Ronaldsway airport will be just 1hr 20min from the UK’s aviation hub, putting the island firmly in short break territory.
The new service departs daily from Terminal 2 at 17:05, with return trips arriving at 15:10. Flights will be operated by Flybe’s 78-seat Q400 turboprop aircraft.
If you haven’t discovered the Isle of Man yet you’re in for a treat. Visitors love exploring its craggy coastline, ancient castles, mountain and steam railways, horse trams and golden-white sandy beaches.
It’s said that from the 2,037ft peak of the highest mountain, Snaefell, you can see six kingdoms – the Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and heaven.
It isn’t all peace and quiet, of course. Every May and June the motorcycle sport crowds head for the Snaefell Mountain Course for the Isle of Man TT Race, held on closed mountain roads lined with spectators.
At different times in its history the island has been ruled by Norway, Scotland and England, but although it’s now a Crown Dependency it has never been part of the UK. The Manx people have an independent spirit, with their own parliament, banknotes and Gaelic language.
The Isle of Man route is Flybe’s third new domestic service from Heathrow to be announced this year. Flights to Newquay, Cornwall, and Guernsey in the Channel Islands, were launched earlier this month.
From 25th June 2019
Heathrow gets non-stop flights to its 13th Chinese city in June, as China Southern begins operations to Zhengzhou – aka “iPhone City” – in the central Henan Province. It will be the first direct service between Europe and Zhengzhou.
You won’t be surprised to hear that Foxconn’s giant factory in Zhengzhou can build half a million Apple phones a day – nor that the city has a population slightly larger than London’s. Yet this area is also known as the birthplace of Chinese civilisation, and another local nickname for Zhengzhou is the Green City.
The remains of the city’s 3,500-year-old Shang Dynasty walls are a must-see, while nearby is the Dengfeng Shaolin Temple where kung-fu has been practised for over 1,500 years.
The city stands on the Yellow River, and if you feel the need to escape urban life you’ll find the Yellow River Scenic Area has more than enough rugged mountains, river views, pavilions, ancient sculptures and beautiful gardens.
Zhengzhou city has its share of temples, too, standing beside more modern attractions including the 388-metre Zhongyuan Tower (it has an observation deck and revolving restaurant on top).
The ferris wheel in Renmin Park is another great way to look down on the city, while an evening spent wandering the night market is an essential Zhengzhou pastime.
There’s a bewildering array of street food to choose from there – everything from slow-cooked chicken to Kaifeng dumplings to “stinky” tofu – and a buzzing atmosphere.
China Southern flights to Zhengzhou from Heathrow Terminal 4 begin on Tuesday 25th June. The route is operated by 266-seat Boeing 787-8 wide-body aircraft, with departures on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 22:10.