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Opportunity for economic growth as number of flights to China set to increase

Monday 11th December 2017

Opportunity for economic growth in the North of England as number of flights to China set to increase

Transport for the North has welcomed the announcement of a 50% increase in direct flights between the UK to China, recognising the economic value of direct access to markets and the North’s ability to sustain such links.

Earlier this year the Independent International Connectivity Commission for the North, chaired by John Cridland, found that increasing global links from the North of England was a key part of transforming the region’s economy. Improving global connections for our key business and visitor sectors is vital to make the most of the North’s international grade assets.

The Independent Commission’s report stated that transformation will require businesses to maintain important links to traditional core partners in Europe and North America, but also be able and willing to trade with more distant markets which are forecasted to see growth in trade, foreign direct investment and business travel. To ensure the North is connected on the global stage, it is important that the right conditions are in place, which reduce the cost and time to travel to destinations.

The Commission highlighted the need for more direct long-haul flights to key markets, with the aim of allowing 90% of long haul travellers to fly directly to and from the North and international destinations by 2050. Unlike other areas of the country, the North currently has available airport capacity and provides a real opportunity to support the UK’s global connectivity and growth in international trade.

The Manchester-Beijing route has highlighted the benefits of this increased global connectivity, with the Northern Powerhouse accounting for 25% of the total UK exports to China in 2016. The direct flight from Manchester airport has increased the value of goods exported by the airport by 265% to £200 million per month; inward investment projects have increased by 24% and the direct Manchester-China flights have resulted in a contribution of around £138 million annually to the visitor economy.

Transport for the North will soon be publishing its draft Strategic Transport Plan for consultation. One of our key aims is ensuring that ground transport links to ports and airports are strengthened, which will generate further demand by making it easier, faster and cheaper for more people and businesses to take advantage of the opportunities offered by expanding global connections.