Heathrow Airport will gain new connections to China with direct services to Changsha and Xi’an, providing an additional 6,700 tonnes of cargo capacity for British exports.
Hainan Airlines will fly to Changsha on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays using a Boeing 787-800 from 23 March, before being upgraded to a larger 787-900 on 1 September.
Tianjin Airlines will operate services to Xi’an in May, flying to the city on Mondays Fridays and Sundays using an Airbus A330-200.
Beijing Capital Airlines will convert its charter service to Qingdao to a twice weekly operation, flying to the city twice a week on Mondays and Fridays using an A330-200 from 26 March.
According to research by Frontier Economics, the new UK connections to Changsha and Xi’an and scheduled connections to Qingdao will enable £26 million annually in economic benefits through trade and create 830 direct and indirect jobs in the UK.
Heathrow Airport chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye says: “China is booming and the appetite for British goods is stronger than ever. We are delighted to welcome these new airlines and routes. However, it is clear that the UK’s access to these Chinese market continues to lag behind our European rivals.
“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.”
Changsha is known for the Mawangdui Han Tombs, parks and temples, and is also a major commercial and transport hub with a population of seven million people.
Xi’an, which has a population of eight million people, is an important industrial and educational centre, with major facilities for research and development, national security and China’s space exploration programme.
Qingdao is ranked as a “golden city” by the World Bank due to its investment climate, and is home to Tsingtao beer.