The Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) Chief Executive Paul Wait has welcomed the recent announcement by the Department for Transport that it has agreed to talks with Beijing to increase the number of direct flights between China and the UK.
The association is one of many lobby groups that has been urging Government to liberalise its flight and visa rules for emerging market countries, including the potentially lucrative Chinese market in particular.
The current agreement with Beijing, signed in 2004, limited the countries’ airlines to 31 return services per week between six destinations in the UK and China.
A new deal should increase both the number of flights and the destinations.
“Nearly a year ago the GTMC commissioned and published a 10 Routes to Growth report based on a survey we conducted and we have used this report extensively in our Government lobbying efforts,” said Wait.
The report had highlighted the urgent need to increase direct routes to China, especially Shenzhen, Chengdu and Nanking/Nanjin.
Over half (53.2%) of respondents surveyed by GTMC identified Chinese markets as their priority for increased connectivity. British business travellers are already travelling to these growth economies but many were doing so via other hubs and connecting routes.
“We are delighted to hear that there is parliamentary action on increasing the number of direct flights between China and the UK as these routes are vital for long-term economic growth,” Wait added.
The announcement on talks with the Chinese follows Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s recent visit to China.
“The world of today is very different to that of a decade ago and we need a new agreement that reflects that,” said McLoughlin.
“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,” the minister added.
“In 2012, visiting Chinese nationals contributed around £300m 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,” he said.
Do you have news for CN? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org