Newly released research, carried out by Frontier Economics, has highlighted the value of frequent, direct connections between Heathrow and China.
The findings reveal that Heathrow’s direct flights to China already contribute more than £510m annually to the UK economy and create nearly 15,000 jobs.
One extra flight per week, on to these existing routes, will provide a further cash injection of £16m a year as a result of increased business travel, and stimulation for increased trade and investment between China and the UK.
This increase in capacity could also support an additional 530 jobs annually, which is just one of the many benefits that will accompany up to 40 new-long haul routes and increased route frequency via Heathrow’s new expansion.
Heathrow currently offers more than 100 direct flights to China every week.
Of these, 55 go to Hong Kong, 22 to Shanghai, 20 to Beijing, 10 to Guangzhou and two to Qingdao. Of the £510m annual contribution by existing routes, £315m is made up by Hong Kong, followed by Beijing and Shanghai.
While connections to Chinese cities are clearly valuable to the UK, rival EU hub airports with capacity to cope are able to fly to 14 other Chinese destinations, opening up more trade and investment to their respective countries.
Heathrow provides regional connections to the North East, where Chinese company TusPark is in the process of setting up its first innovation centre – which will focus on strengthening links between UK and Chinese companies.
The research also pointed out that connectivity is a key factor in continuing the growth of Chinese students studying in UK universities – which how grown by 14% between 2012/13 and 2016/2017.
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