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ExCeL London - 22-23 June 2021
The UK is to begin talks with Chinese authorities to increase the number of flights allowed between the two countries.
Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin has agreed to start negotiations in early 2014 on an “improved” bilateral agreement with China during a trip to the Far East.
Currently the bilateral agreement between the UK and China, which was signed in 2004, limits each country’s airlines to a total of 31 return flights per week between six destinations in both the UK and China.
McLoughlin said: “The world of today is very different to that of a decade ago and we need a new agreement that reflects that.
“Improved air links between the UK and China would be good for trade, tourism and forging new partnerships, strengthening the links between our two countries.”
The Department for Transport added that a new bilateral agreement would “look to increase both the number of flights and the destinations, benefiting tourism and business in both countries”.
“In 2012, visiting Chinese nationals contributed around £300 million to the British economy,” said the DFT. “Improved air links could help boost this figure further. It could also benefit the increasing number of UK companies who regularly travel to China.”
China is seen as one of the biggest markets for potential trade growth alongside its fellow BRIC countries: Brazil, India and Russia.
Paul Wait, chief executive of the GTMC, said its ‘10 Routes to Growth’ report published last year highlighted Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Chengdu and Nanjing (pictured) as emerging destinations which needed direct flights from the UK. Since the report’s publication, British Airways has begun flying from Heathrow to Chengdu.
“British business travellers are already travelling to these growth economies but at present they are doing so via other hubs and connecting routes,” added Wait.
“We are delighted to hear that there is parliamentary action on increasing the number of direct flights between China and the UK as these routes are vital for long-term economic growth.”