UK signs new bilateral deal with China, for 150 return flights per week each (up from 100) – so more opportunity for regional airports

Britain has signed another bilateral deal with China, to increase the number of weekly direct flights between Chinese airports and UK airports. The number will rise from the current limit of 100 return flights per week by each country’s airlines, to 150 flights – ie. a 50% increase. This is being hyped as a deal to “boost trade and tourism after Brexit.” At present 8 airlines operate 9 routes between British airports and 5 Chinese cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Qingdao. Ministers hope the added flights will boost opportunities for British companies in China, and increase income from Chinese tourists coming to the UK. In the first half of 2017 the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK rose by 47% (compared to the first half of 2016) with 115,000 visits were made. Their spending increased to £231 million, up 54%.  Last year, Manchester airport launched the first direct regional flight between the two countries. Regional airports could now have more, if there is the demand.  Until October 2016, the limit was 40 return flights per week. In 2016, restrictions were also relaxed to allow for an unlimited number of cargo flights between the UK and China. Air China accounts for the highest seat capacity between the UK and China (30.2%), followed by British Airways (20.6%) and China Southern Airlines (12.5%).


Open skies deal will see China flights take off

By Tim Shipman, Political Editor (The Sunday Times)

December 10th 2017

Britain has signed a landmark airline deal with China in what ministers claim is the first of a series of open skies agreements to boost trade and tourism after Brexit.

The number of direct flights from the UK to the world’s most populous country is set to rise by 50% to 150 per week — with a huge expansion in routes from regional airports expected to help cities outside London.


Andrew Cowan, chief executive of Manchester Airport, said: “Our connections to both Beijing and Hong Kong have led to significantly higher volumes of exports and inward investment.”

He added that universities in the north of England “have benefited from increased international student numbers and research collaborations with Chinese institutions.”


…….. See full article at:


See earlier:


UK and China renew bilateral deal so each could have 100 return flights (up from 40) per week

The DfT has renewed the bilateral aviation agreement with China, to allow more weekly flights between the two countries. Until now, the limit had been 40 flights by UK airlines to China per week, and return 40 flights by Chinese airlines to the UK. This has been raised to 100 flights each. There will be no limit on the number of all-cargo services (but most Heathrow freight goes as belly hold, not separate freighter). Currently Chinese airlines operate 38 flights a week between the two countries, and UK airlines operate 29.  The only UK airports that have flights to  China are Heathrow and Manchester.  The earlier deal was that any UK airline could serve a maximum of 6 separate airports in China. Now UK airlines can operate to anywhere in mainland China. Laying on the hype, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said the deal was a “big moment for the UK”. However, airlines will have to decide whether it makes sense to use the extra capacity to offer new Chinese flights to and from China, with doubtful demand, when transatlantic routes are more profitable. The hope is probably for more UK business and UK exports. The DfT ignores the problem that the UK imports from China more than twice as much as it exports to China. More flights may exacerbate that. House of Commons Library data says that: “In 2014, UK exports to China were worth £18.7 billion. Imports from China were £38.3 billion. The UK had a trade deficit of £19.6 billion with China.”  Flights to and from Hong Kong are in a separate bilateral deal.



and earlier:

UK/China agreement to raise number of return flights each is allowed from 31 to 40 per week, and from 6 up to 9 airports

Flights between the UK and China are set to increase following an agreement allowing more passenger flights between the two countries. These are controlled, as for all countries, by bilateral agreements to ensure the number is balanced and neither side has too much advantage. Talks were initiated by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin who launched negotiations on improved air links during a visit to China in October last year. The previous agreement, last updated in 2011, limited the passenger airlines of both countries to a maximum of 31 return services per week in each direction, serving up to six destinations in each country. The new deal will increase the weekly maximum available to both countries to 40 direct flights in each direction, and allow UK airlines to serve up to three more Chinese cities than previously. ie. nine. The new deal also allows UK airlines greater freedom to codeshare with Chinese carriers on routes within mainland China. The lack of air links to China is due to the limit on weekly flights, and by the level of demand. It is not limited by the number of flights permitted. The numbers of flights to Hong Kong are under a separate agreement from those to China.