China Southern is to launch new direct services to Wuhan and Sanya from Heathrow.
Both destinations are a first for direct routes into Heathrow, the connection to Sanya is a first for Europe. These routes will allow for over 6,000 metric tonnes of additional cargo capacity and over 110,000 new seats for passengers travelling to the region – however, say the Airport, due to capacity constraints, European hub airports continue to have a competitive advantage in connecting to China.
From 30 May 2018, China Southern will launch 3 new weekly services to Wuhan, before beginning two weekly scheduled services to the popular tourist destination of Sanya on Hainan Island on 12 July.
Heathrow say 2017 services to China via Heathrow contributed £510m to the UK economy, and supported up to 15,000 jobs, according to Frontier Economics. While connections to Chinese cities are clearly valuable to the UK, rival EU hub airports with capacity to connect directly to ten other Chinese destinations, including cities like Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Kunming, are facilitating more trade and investment to their respective countries.
The Government is expected to vote on a National Policy Statement on Heathrow’s plans for expansion over the coming weeks. Heathrow say expansion would allow the airport the capacity to offer up to 40 new long haul destinations, as well as double its cargo capacity – providing the UK with much-needed trade infrastructure at a time when the country is looking to extend its trade relationships outside the EU.
The news of these new routes comes as Heathrow’s Export Climate Index for Q1, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), says that the value of exports passing through Heathrow to non-EU destinations increased by £2.9 billion compared to Q1 in 2017. However, the Export Climate Index has also shown growth in passenger numbers remains constant due the capacity constraints faced by Heathrow.
Heathrow and the Department for International Trade’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign have launched the second annual ‘World of Opportunity Programme’. This programme will award 20 SMEs with grants worth £2,000 to fund trade missions, participation in trade shows or foreign market research.
Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton said: “A third runway will better enable British exporters to compete on a global stage, and we urge the Government to table its final National Policy Statement on expansion so that Parliament can vote and we can get on and deliver it.”
Chinese Ambassador to the UK, HE Liu Xiaoming said: “I would like to extend my congratulations on the launch of the new air routes this summer linking London Heathrow with two bustling Chinese cities of Wuhan and Sanya respectively. The key to sound relationships between states lies in the affinity between the peoples, which largely stems from mutual understanding.
“I sincerely hope that these new routes will become bridges of mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples, facilitating travels and exchanges between our two countries and giving fresh impetus to the Golden Era of the China-UK relationship.”