Heathrow is to gain a new route to China with Beijing Capital Airlines starting the first direct flights to Qingdao.
Three flights a week will run from this summer to the home of Tsingtao beer and one of the fastest growing cities in China.
The announcement follows seven years of talks between Heathrow and Beijing Capital’s parent company, Hainan Airlines Group.
The route to Qingdao will provide nearly 70,000 extra seats a year for passengers travelling to and from China.
The new service adds to the Chinese destinations of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou being served from the London hub.
Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “As the UK’s gateway to the world, we are delighted to welcome Beijing Capital Airlines and the tremendous, previously untapped opportunities of the Qingdao market for British business.
“In the future, the UK’s ability to trade in the world will rely on direct access to new, expanding markets like these.
“But this is only the start. With expansion, Heathrow will provide British exporters access to up to 40 new long-haul destinations across the globe – including more Chinese cities – and send a powerful message that Britain is open for business and our future is stronger as a global, outward looking, trading nation.”
Beijing Capital Airlines chief executive, Xu Jun, said: “We are pleased and honoured to have this chance to strengthen the connection between the UK and China.
“This new route will offer more convenient and comfortable travel service to citizens in both countries than any previous experience flying from Heathrow to Qingdao.
“And it also will be a starting point for us to continually increase the UK’s transportation capacity and further expand the UK tourism market.
“With the launch of the Heathrow route, we hope to contribute to the economic and culture exchange for the benefits of both countries.”
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