Heathrow Airport has gained a new direct link to China with three flights a week to Qingdao operated by Beijing Capital Airlines.
The new route was put in place following the UK and Chinese governments negotiations to significantly increase the number of permitted flights between the two countries last year, and the agreement lifts the previous restrictions limiting airlines to serving six destinations in each country, opening up the potential for more trade with Chinese powerhouse cities.
The Qingdao flights will provide 4,000 tonnes of cargo space for British exports to Shandong province, an economic powerhouse of China with a population of nine million people.
Qingdao is ranked as a ‘golden city’ by the World Bank due to its investment climate and is a major port, manufacturing base and home to Tsingtao beer.
Heathrow Airport chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye says: “As the UK’s gateway to the world, we are delighted to welcome Beijing Capital Airlines and the tremendous, previously untapped opportunities of the Qingdao market for British business. In the future, the UK’s ability to trade in the world will rely on direct access to new, expanding markets like these.”
He says a third runway will help British exports further, adding: “With expansion, Heathrow will provide British exporters access to up to 40 new long-haul destinations across the globe – including more Chinese cities- and send a powerful message that Britain is open for business and our future is stronger as a global, outward looking, trading nation.”
This will be the fourth direct flight to Mainland China following Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but there are 10 others with links to rival European Union Hubs.
It says UK air exports to China were $4.6 billion, compared to over $29 billion from Germany, but the Qingdao will route will provide extra capacity for UK businesses to be able to compete more effectively with European rivals.