Two new scheduled services from Birmingham airport to China could boost exporting opportunities for West Midlands businesses.
The new services, from Birmingham to Beijing and Birmingham to Shanghai, with Beijing Capital Airlines, will not only offer passengers the chance to visit China’s capital, but will open the door to increased opportunities with Chinese industry.
With UKTI revealing that West Midland’s export surplus with china had widened to an incredible £2.76bn at the end of 2015, and statistics from Jaguar Land Rover, the region’s biggest manufacturer, showing more than a quarter of its total output was sold in China, the country is already a key export destination.
The new scheduled services follow on from the success of direct charter flights, the first outside of London, which saw over 7,000 Chinese visitors travel through Birmingham Airport during 2014 and 2015.
Furthermore, China is currently one of the fastest growing visitor source markets for the UK tourism industry at a rate of 20% year-on-year over the past few years.
The size of the market has tripled over the past decade, and it is forecast to continue to grow strongly for the remainder of the decade.
Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, said: “Today we have reached one of our goals – to offer direct scheduled services to China.
"We have made the investment, developed the market and today is testament that our region has enormous demand for direct flights to China.”
Christine Hamilton, interim director of UKTI West Midlands, said with China being one of the West Midlands’ most important markets, it was good news that two new scheduled routes were being introduced.
She said:“China is the West Midlands’s second biggest export market behind only the USA with exports worth more than £3.6bn in 2015.
“There is still massive potential for businesses in our region to trade with China and we work every week with companies that are keen to take their goods and services there, so extra routes such as those announced helps to access those markets from our doorstep.”
The announcement falls during Exporting is GREAT week, which will see a series of events across the region offering advice and inspiration to local businesses, including today’s Global Opportunities Summit.
“The message will be clear: the export opportunities are out there and we need to make sure businesses from the West Midlands region grasp them now.”
The scheduled services will operate on Saturdays to Beijing and on Tuesdays to Shanghai (Hangzhou) and will be operated by an airbus A330-200 aircraft, with a total of 211 seats - 33 business and 178 in economy.