New London-China air link

China’s Hainan Airlines launched its second non-stop flight service to the UK on Friday, connecting London with Changsha, the capital of Hunan province.

The three times a week new service is the latest addition to the more than 100 weekly flights between London and China currently in operation, and rides on a wave of increasing travels between UK and China. Bao Qifa, chairman of Hainan Airlines, said the new route will “further contribute to the enhancement of bilateral trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries”. Hainan Airlines began direct flights between Manchester and Beijing in June 2016. It also has plans to launch a Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin service in June.

Growing UK-China air links have already realized value in the UK’s economy and supported job creation, according to a new report released this week by the London-based consultancy Frontier Economics, commissioned by Heathrow Airport. Frontier Economics estimates the launch of the Changsha-London flight, and two other flights connecting London with Xi’an and Qingdao, will add 26 million pounds ($36.79 million) value annually to the UK economy through trade and foreign direct investment, and create 830 jobs in the UK.

Tianjin Airlines will begin flights between Xi’an and London in May. Beijing Capital Airlines has also announced it will convert its existing charter operation to a scheduled route to Qingdao, with a twice-weekly service starting next week. “China is booming and the appetite for British goods is stronger than ever. We are delighted to welcome these new airlines and routes,” Heathrow Airport Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said. This year, Holland-Kaye is seeking approval for expansion plans that would include a new runway and terminal infrastructure. The airport chief hopes the study will show that the proposed expansion, and additional routes and destinations in China, will boost the economy.