Talks to increase the number of direct flights between China and the UK have been secured by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin during a recent visit.
During the first trip to China by a Secretary of State for Transport for over two years Patrick McLoughlin agreed to begin negotiations on an improved bilateral air services agreement with China in early 2014.
Mr McLoughlin said:
The world of today is very different to that of a decade ago and we need a new agreement that reflects that.
Improved air links between the UK and China would be good for trade, tourism and forging new partnerships, strengthening the links between our two countries.
In 2012, visiting Chinese nationals contributed around £300 million to the British economy. Improved air links could help boost this figure further. It could also benefit the increasing number of UK companies who regularly travel to China.
The current agreement between the UK and China, signed in 2004, limits the countries’ airlines to 31 return services per week between six destinations in the UK and China. The new deal will look to increase both the number of flights and the destinations, benefiting tourism and business in both countries.
The Secretary of State visited Beijing Capital International Airport during his trip which, once completed, is expected to be the biggest airport in the world. This multi-billion pound investment represents an enormous economic opportunity for both UK and Chinese companies to work together.
A memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Transport Minister Yang has also been signed, updating an agreement from 2009. It seeks to allow the UK to share technical expertise and specialist knowledge with China, encourage inward investment and help UK firms become more closely involved with the delivery of multi-billion pound Chinese infrastructure projects.
The Secretary of State’s schedule also saw him visit Kwai Chung Container Terminals in Hong Kong, the third busiest container port in the world. He also met with transport authorities to promote UK bus manufacturers such as Alexander Dennis and Wright Bus, who currently have a 90% share of the bus fleet in Hong Kong.