Successful negotiations held between the respective governments of the UK and China have resulted in an increase of 150% in the services currently being operated.
At present only 40 passenger flights per week were being allowed, but this has now risen to 100. In addition, there will be no restrictions on the number of permitted cargo flights.
Part of the intention behind the agreement is to increase the level of tourism between the two countries. Additionally, there are now no restrictions on the destination of flights to either country – this had been restricted to just six airports in each.
According to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, the deal is a “big moment” for the UK, adding: “Strong connections with emerging markets like China are vital for us if we are to continue competing on the global economic stage.
“Hundreds of thousands of Chinese people visit the UK every year, spending hundreds of millions of pounds.
“Raising the number of permitted flights between the 2 countries will provide massive opportunities for our businesses, helping increase trade, create jobs and boost our economy up and down the country.”
270,000 Chinese visitors came to the United Kingdom in 2015 – up 46% on the previous year, but this is still a very small percentage of overall visitor numbers to Britain.
While the British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the news as an opportunity to encouraging further business and investment growth in the UK, its acting Director General was more cautious, indicating that if a decision regarding where a new runway is to be created near London is further delayed, then this could severely hamper the potential of this new agreement, “Relaxing the rules on flights with China sends a positive signal to current and potential global trading partners, but we need more aviation capacity in the UK for this to be effective.”
In September, Manchester became the first UK airport outside of London to offer direct services to China, which has the potential to bring in an estimated £250 million in economic benefits to the UK over the next ten years.