B-2735 Boeing 787 China Southern
Image Source: Mark Harkin
Nick Hill

Heathrow direct flights to China inject £510m in UK economy per year

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.

The planning process for Heathrow expansion is already underway, with the airport carrying out its first public consultation on its emerging plans starting this month. Parliament is expected to vote on a National Policy Statement in the first half of this year, which will set out the policy framework for Heathrow’s final planning submission.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow said: “Heathrow is proud of its role as a gateway to these vital Chinese markets; enabling global trade as the UK’s largest port by value, acting as a catalyst for thousands of jobs for the local community and contributing billions to the UK economy.

“Expansion of Heathrow is a chance to deepen relations between China and the UK; as the report highlights, just one extra route could contribute hundreds of jobs and millions to the UK’s GDP.

“As the country prepares to leave the EU and China’s economy continues to grow exponentially, this is an opportunity the UK cannot afford to miss.”

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