Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is in talks with Chinese authorities to increase the number of flights between the country and the UK.
McLoughlin is the first transport secretary to visit China in more than two years and during his trip aims to sign a new air agreement that will allow for more flights.
Currently an agreement signed in 2004 only allows for 31 return services a week between six destinations in the UK and China. The new deal will look to increase the number of flights and destinations.
McLoughlin signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China’s transport minister during the trip, which included visits to Beijing’s new Capital International Airport and Hong Kong’s Kawi Chung port.
“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,” said McLoughlin.
GTMC’s chief executive Paul Wait welcomed the action as businesses demand more direct services into China.
Referencing a report the association launched last year, Wait said: “The [‘10 Routes to Growth’] report highlighted the urgent need to increase direct routes to China, especially Shenzhen, Chengdu and Nanking/Nanjin; 53.2% of our survey respondents identified Chinese markets as their priority for increased connectivity. British business travellers are already travelling to these growth economies but at present they are 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.”