Heathrow Airport welcomed its first flight arriving directly from the Chinese megacity of Chongqing this weekend operated by Tianjin Airlines and its 10th route to China.
The thrice-weekly service will offer space for 3,744 tonnes of annual exports and imports a year. Tianjin airlines will fly an Airbus A330-200 on the service, which will depart from Heathrow on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Chongqing is part of the “West Triangle Economic Zone” in China which includes Chengdu and Xi’an and contributes nearly 40 per cent of Western China’s GDP. The economic growth of Chongqing regularly tops that of other Chinese cities, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
Last year 137,000 tonnes of cargo – an increase of more than 10 per cent from 2016 – was transported to and from China from Heathrow.
While connections to Chinese cities are valuable to the UK, Heathrow says rival EU hub airports with spare capacity are able to connect directly to eight other Chinese destinations, including Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Kunming.
Heathrow has now added five new Chinese destinations this year, but wants to add further connections although is restricted due to limited capacity. Along with Chongqing it has added services to Wuhan, Sanya, Changsa and Xi’an. It also has routes to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Qingdao.
Heathrow chief commercial officer, Ross Baker said: “We are tremendously pleased to welcome our 10th direct connection to China – and direct link to some of the most stunning scenery and culinary experiences China has to offer. Heathrow is proud of its role as the UK’s Hub airport and biggest gateway for Chinese passengers and cargo going between our two countries.
“But we have much further to go, and now that Parliament has voted unequivocally in favour of Heathrow expansion we will ensure London, and the UK, become the destination of choice for Chinese trade, tourism, and investment.”