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New London-China flights worth 26 million pounds to UK economy

By Angus McNeice | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-03-21 23:48
An aircraft takes off from Heathrow airport in west London in this file photograph dated September 2, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese market could be key for post-Brexit Britain

The launch of three new direct flights between China and London will bring 26 million pounds ($36.6 million) to the United Kingdom economy, according to a report commissioned by Heathrow Airport.

London-based consultancy Frontier Economics estimates that new London connections with Changsha, Xi’an and Qingdao will add 26 million pounds annually to the UK’s gross domestic product, through trade and foreign direct investment and the creation of 830 jobs in the UK.

This week Hainan Airlines begins a three-times weekly service connecting Changsha and Heathrow, while Tianjin Airlines will begin flights between Xi’an and London in May. Beijing Capital Airlines has also announced it will convert its existing charter operation to a scheduled route to Qingdao, with a twice-weekly service starting next week.

“China is booming and the appetite for British goods is stronger than ever. We are delighted to welcome these new airlines and routes,” Heathrow Airport Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said.

This year, Holland-Kaye is seeking approval for expansion plans that would include a new runway and terminal infrastructure. The airport chief hopes the study will show that the proposed expansion, and additional routes and destinations in China, will boost the economy.

“It is clear that the UK’s access to the Chinese market continues to lag behind our European rivals,” he said. “Our nation’s biggest port is full and new routes from the UK to huge markets like Changsha and Xi’an are sadly the exception, not the rule. If the UK is going to be a global trading powerhouse after Brexit, we need to expand Heathrow now – opening up to 40 new trading links that will help all of the UK thrive.”

There are currently 109 weekly flights between London and China. Frontier Economics estimates these flights add 510 million pounds to UK GDP and support 15,000 jobs.

The economic benefits of direct links with China are being felt elsewhere in the country. Private Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines started flying a non-stop route between Beijing and Manchester, in Northern England, in June last year.

Since then, exports from Northern England to China have almost tripled, to 200 million pounds a month, and the amount spent by Chinese tourists in Manchester has doubled to 138 million pounds a year, according to a report by the Manchester China Forum and Manchester Airport.

Starting in June, Hainan Airlines is set to launch the first direct flights between the Chinese mainland and both Ireland and Scotland with new routes connecting Beijing with Dublin and Edinburgh.

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