Heathrow welcomes China’s largest airline, and a new trade route to Guangzhou

China Southern, the largest Chinese airline, has now been able to get take off and landing slots at Heathrow for 3 flights a week to Guangzhou. This is the first direct flight to Guanzhou from the UK, though there are many other flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, from where connecting flights can be made to all the regional Chinese cities.  BAA complains that it is limited in how many flights it can provide to China, that its European rivals have more, and that they have more direct routes. BAA says Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam airports will boast direct flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao this year. However, Heathrow manages around 21 flights per day to Miami, and large numbers to other non-business but profitable routes.  Heathrow appears to have many more passengers each year travelling to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong) than Frankfurt, Paris or Schiphol. See Comparison.


27 February 2012  (Heathrow Airport press release)

  • China Southern will operate the first ever flights between London and Guangzhou from June
  • New route expected to boost trade
  • But UK falls further behind France, Germany and Holland in race for new routes to China

China Southern Airlines will begin flights on 6 June 2012 between Heathrow and Guangzhou, China’s third largest city. There will be three flights a week from Terminal 4 and Heathrow will be the only UK airport served by the airline. China Southern Airlines is the largest airline in China and the sixth largest in the world, operating a fleet of more than 300 aircraft.

The new route will be the first between the UK and Guangzhou and is expected to boost trade.  More than 25% of all global economic growth over the next five years is expected to come from China and Guangzhou is the country’s third largest city. A recent report by Frontier Economics found that UK businesses trade 20 times as much with Emerging Market destinations that have a direct daily flight to the UK as they do with those countries that do not.

The deal has taken eight years to come to fruition with BAA first talking to the airline in 2004.  Because Heathrow is full, operating at 99.2% of its permitted capacity, China Southern has had to wait for suitable take-off and landing slots to become available from other airlines before it has been able to add the new route.

The UK has missed out on trade, jobs and economic growth because of the Government’s cap on flights at the UK’s only hub.  In the meantime the airline has flown to Paris, giving French companies an eight-year head start in building new trade links with China. Even now, Paris will have four times as many flights to Guangzhou than the UK.

While the UK is adding one new route to the world’s most important emerging market in 2012, its European competitors will serve a further seven additional routes to China’s interior. Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam airports will boast direct flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao this year, in addition to the flights to Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai served from the UK. [These flights to Paris etc don’t yet exist – all currently involve having a stop over, as do the flights from Heathrow].

Other airlines from major emerging economies would like to add new routes at Heathrow, but are unable to do so because of a lack of take-off and landing slots. A recent report by Frontier Economics found that there were twenty-one emerging market destinations with daily flights from Continental European hubs but not from Heathrow. This lack of connectivity is estimated to be costing the UK economy £1.2bn a year in lost trade.

Colin Matthews, Chief Executive Officer of BAA, said

“It is great news for the UK that China Southern is opening up a new route between Heathrow and Guangzhou. We are delighted that China Southern has chosen Heathrow, and we would like to welcome more flights from China Southern and other airlines that could bring jobs and growth to the UK. The centre of gravity in the world economy is shifting and Britain should be forging new links with economies like China. Instead a lack of hub airport capacity is causing us to fall further behind the rest of Europe.”



Number of passengers to China from Heathrow and its rivals

The data  below  show that there are many more passengers flying to China from Heathrow, (considering Hong Kong as China) in years for which data can be found. Though Heathrow may lack a few direct flights to a couple of regional airports in China, it appears to have more passengers travelling to and from China  than Frankfurt, or Paris, or Schiphol. Figures below are for Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (not other regionals).

About 1,113,000 passengers for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

About 757,100  passengers for Frankfurt Airport. (2010)

About 1,061,500 passengers for Schiphol (2009)

And 2,074,826 passengers to China including Hong Kong in 2011 for Heathrow.

And 1,993,593 passengers to China including Hong Kong in 2010 for Heathrow.  And 2,065,130 passengers  in 2009.


 Airport Beijing Shanghai Hong Kong Total
2011 275,058 331,756 1,386,564  2,074,826
2010 310,758 351,933 1,412,749 1,993,593
2009 299,858 236,386 1,528,886 2,065,130
Paris CDG ? 2010? 2011? ? 512,000 601,000 1,113,000
Frankfurt 2010 270,500 264,900 221,700  757,100
Schiphol 2009 ? ? ? 1,016,518

Details  below



Total annual passengers at Heathrow and its European rivals

For total passengers using the airports, in the 2008 ranking, Heathrow was 3rd in the world, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta with 90,039,200 and O’Hare Chicago  69,353,600.  Heathrow has many more than even its nearest rival inEurope, Paris Charles de Gaulle.


3. Heathrow                              2008     67,056,200                        2011    69,433,230

5. Paris-Charles de Gaulle   2008     60,852,000                        2011   60,970,551

9. Frankfurt                               2008     53,467,450                        2011   56,440,000

11.MadridBarajas                   2008     50,823,100                        2011   49,662,512

14.AmsterdamSchiphol         2008     47,429,700                        2011   49,755,252

http://bit.ly/12tzSx  (2008 data from Airports Council International)   (2011 data, Wikipedia)


How many flights does Heathrow actually have to the emerging economies?

March 5, 2012    There have been letters in the Sunday Times and in the Sunday Telegraph from lists of business people, in support of airport expansion in the south east, and demanding reconsideration of a third runway at Heathrow. They claim that Heathrow is lagging behind Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt airport in the number of flights to the emerging and rapidly growing economies. And that therefore the UK will be condemned to an economic backwater if vast amounts of concrete are not poured, and another runway is not provided. But what is the actual situation? Are there really not enough flights to emerging economies from Heathrow? Are the numbers to some destinations low just because there really is not the demand (however much UK business might like there to be the demand)? We investigate what flights there really are from Heathrow already.  Click here to view full story…



What destinations are served by Frankfurt, Paris and Heathrow airports, and how many passengers travel to Chinese destination?


This is the map, from Wikipedia, of destinations served by direct flights from Heathrow.



This is the map, from Wikipedia, of destinations served by direct flights from Frankfurt.




Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

? 2011 or 2010?

Busiest International Routes
Madrid 2,117,000
Rome 1,744,000
New York 1,634,000
London 1,625,000
Barcelona 1,591,000
Milan 1,535,000
Montreal 1,233,000
Casablanca 1,142,000
Lisbon 1,126,000
Tunis 993,000
Alger 952,000
Tokyo 869,000
Tel Aviv 739,000
Dubai 716,000
Hong Kong 601,000
São Paulo 527,000
Los Angeles 525,000
Beirut 524,000
Shanghai 512,000
Atlanta[27] 511,000
Rio de Janeiro 505,000
Mauritius 482,000
Cairo 418,000
Mexico City 398,000
Dakar 320,000


So that was  601,000 + 512,000 =  1,113,000 passengers to China – including Hong Kong  – from Paris Charles de Gaulle in either 2011 or 2010.


Busiest routes at Frankfurt Airport (2010) [33]
Rank Airport Departing passengers Airlines
1 Germany Berlin-Tegel 802,000 LufthansaAir Berlin
2 Germany Hamburg 745,100 Lufthansa, Air Berlin
3 United Kingdom London-Heathrow 620,500 British Airways, Lufthansa
4 Germany Munich 475,100 Lufthansa
5 Spain Madrid 459,400 IberiaLAN Airlines, Lufthansa, Spanair
6 United States Chicago-O’Hare 451,700 American Airlines, Lufthansa, United Airlines
7 Austria Vienna 450,200 Adria AirwaysAustrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Niki
8 France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 448,200 Air France, Lufthansa
9 Singapore Singapore 429,500 Lufthansa, QantasSingapore Airlines
10 United States New York-JFK 365,400 Delta, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines
11 Turkey Istanbul-Atatürk 355,900 Condor, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines
12 United Arab Emirates Dubai 337,700 Condor, Emirates, Lufthansa
13 United States Washington-Dulles 334,900 Lufthansa, United Airlines
14 Thailand Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi 330,900 Lufthansa, Thai Airways
15 Italy Rome-Fiumicino 320,300 AlitaliaEthiopian Airlines, Lufthansa
16 Japan Tokyo-Narita 302,600 All Nippon AirwaysJapan Airlines, Lufthansa
17 Spain Barcelona 295.055 Lufthansa, Spanair
19 Canada Toronto-Pearson 289,100 Air CanadaAir Transat, Lufthansa
20 Turkey Antalya 285,000 Condor, Pegasus AirlinesSky AirlinesSunExpressTUIFlyXL Airways
21 Netherlands Amsterdam 282,200 KLM, Lufthansa
22 Spain Palma de Mallorca 280,000 Air Berlin, Condor, TUIfly, Lufthansa
23 United States San Francisco 277,300 Lufthansa, United Airlines
24 Denmark Copenhagen 276,400 Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines
25 Switzerland Zurich 272,700 Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines
26 ChinaBeijing-Capital 270,500 Air China, Lufthansa
27 China Shanghai-Pudong 264,900 Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Lufthansa
28 Sweden Stockholm-Arlanda 264,000 Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines
29 United States Newark 255,000 Continental, Lufthansa
30 Portugal Lisbon 253,900 Lufthansa, TAP Portugal
31 South Korea Seoul-Incheon 236,400 Asiana AirlinesKorean Air, Lufthansa
32 Greece Athens 228,100 Aegean Airlines, Lufthansa
33 Brazil São Paulo-Guarulhos 223,500 Lufthansa, TAM Airlines
34 Finland Helsinki 222,700 Finnair, Lufthansa
35 Hong Kong Hong Kong 221,700 Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa
36 Russia Moscow-Domodedovo 220,500 Lufthansa, S7 AirlinesTransaero
37 Czech Republic Prague 220,000 Czech Airlines, Lufthansa
38 Republic of Ireland Dublin 214,700 Aer Lingus, Lufthansa
39 Norway Oslo-Gardermoen 213,300 Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines
40 Israel Tel Aviv 211,300 El Al, Lufthansa, Sun d’Or International Airlines

So that was 270,500 + 264,900  + 221,700 = 757,100 passengers to China including Hong Kong in 2010.

535,400 without Hong Kong.



Busiest international routes at Heathrow[67]
Rank Airport Passengers handled
Passengers handled
1 (1) United StatesNew York City – JFK 2,969,530 2,478,722
2 (2) United Arab EmiratesDubai 1,787,561 1,745,005
3 (3) Republic of IrelandDublin 1,493,613 1,604,044
4 (4) Hong KongHong Kong 1,386,779 1,528,886
5 (5) NetherlandsAmsterdam 1,333,124 1,509,787
6 (6) FranceParis – CDG 1,299,701 1,338,307
7 (9) GermanyFrankfurt am Main 1,266,240 1,201,354
8 (7) United StatesLos Angeles 1,189,309 1,235,549
9 (8) United StatesChicago – O’Hare 1,138,012 1,218,516
10 (10) SpainMadrid-Barajas 1,093,538 1,127,369
11 (13) United StatesNewark 1,091,818 1,003,041
12 (15) ItalyRome – Fiumicino 1,032,872 945,369
13 (11) SingaporeSingapore 1,022,220 1,123,503
14 (17) GermanyMunich 975,465 907,897
15 (21) IndiaMumbai 957,439 861,667
16 (12) CanadaToronto – Pearson 940,448 1,013,477
17 (14) United StatesWashington – Dulles 920,514 1,001,468
18 (25) IndiaDelhi 918,196 756,013
19 (19) SwedenStockholm – Arlanda 912,362 891,493
20 (16) South AfricaJohannesburg 886,146 921,194
21 (20) SwitzerlandZurich 876,385 888,246
22 (22) DenmarkCopenhagen 870,072 853,849
23 (23) United StatesBoston 866,719 850,620
24 (18) United StatesSan Francisco 860,617 892,735
25 (33) SwitzerlandGeneva 859,143 640,131
26 (31) TurkeyIstanbul – Atatürk 855,071 653,169
27 (24) United StatesMiami 822,315 846,211
28 (30) GreeceAthens 784,308 666,171
29 (32) AustriaVienna 731,100 649,007
30 (29) PortugalLisbon 727,335 697,460
31 (27) AustraliaSydney 696,301 741,583
32 (26) JapanTokyo – Narita 683,186 753,997
33 (35) ItalyMilan – Linate 647,636 599,415
34 (37) QatarDoha 640,782 583,380
35 (28) SpainBarcelona 605,989 725,005
36 (35) ThailandBangkok – Suvarnabhumi 597,826 599,574
37 (39) GermanyBerlin – Tegel 596,543 513,659
38 (33) NorwayOslo 592,477 610,700
39 (38) FinlandHelsinki 578,543 560,235
Total 37,925,601 37,737,808

.                 Shanghai + Beijing (2010)            662,690

As Heathrow has such high numbers of passengers, the figures to Shanghai and Beijing are not shown in the top 39. But the CAA figure is 662,690.

Hong Kong alone had 1,386,779 passengers in 2010 from Heathrow. A much higher number than Frankfurt or Paris.


2011 figures from the CAA   link  show that there were 662,000 passengers travelling to Shanghai and Beijing, and 1,412,826 passengers to Hong Kong (all from Heathrow apart from 286).

That makes a total of 2,074,826 passengers to China including Hong Kong in 2011.

And 1,993,593 passengers to China including Hong Kong in 2010    link    

And 2,065,130 passengers including Hong Kong  in 2009.  (There were slightly less to  Beijing and Hong Kong in 2010 than in 2009, but more to Shanghai).


CAA international passenger figures for 2011

International Air Passenger Traffic To and From Reporting Airports for 2011
Comparison with the Previous Year




Amsterdam Schiphol

Guangzhou and Hanghou direct flights were added in 2011.

In 2009 there were 1,061,518 passengers to China.  No more up to date information is available.



World’s busiest airports – 2010 Statistics – figures show the total of airports serving the city combined.

London has by far the most.

The following list is generated from two lists compiled by CAPA Centre for Aviation based on data from Airports Council International, one ranking cities with multiple airports[1] and the other ranking individual airports.[2]


Rank City Total
Airport(s) included
1. United Kingdom London 127,353,419 HeathrowGatwickStanstedLutonLondon CitySouthend[3]
2. United States New York City 107,586,717 JFKNewarkLaGuardiaWestchester[4]Long Island[5]Stewart[6]
3. Japan Tokyo 98,024,708 HanedaNarita
4. United States Atlanta 89,331,622 Hartsfield–Jackson
5. France Paris 86,203,669 Charles de GaulleOrlyBeauvais
6. United States Chicago 84,302,427 O’HareMidway
7. United States Los Angeles 79,981,524 LAXLong BeachBob HopeJohn WayneOntario[7]
8. China Beijing 76,171,801 CapitalNanyuan[8][9]
9. China Shanghai 71,684,808 PudongHongqiao
10. United States Dallas/Fort Worth 64,867,419 DFWLove Field


and it continues ….