Birmingham Airport’s CEO has welcomed talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on trade and visa requirements as essential for bolstering UK-China relations.
Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive Officer of Birmingham Airport, said:
“As the only region in the UK to have a positive balance of trade with China we know how essential these talks are. Businesses in the Midlands are telling us they want to fly direct to China which is why we have extended our runway for longer haul destinations and, on 22 July, are delighted to be playing host to the first Beijing flights to a UK airport outside of London.”
Home Secretary Theresa May announced on Monday (16 June) that the Government will introduce easier forms for visa applicants from China and an agreement to allow travellers from China or India to come to the UK on Irish visas.
On 22 July, Birmingham Airport will play host to the first ever flights from and to China from a UK airport outside of London. The charter flights are a result of a joint initiative between Birmingham Airport, China Southern Airlines, Caissa Travel Management Co Ltd and Birmingham China specialist agency, United Travel.
The West Midlands is the only UK region to enjoy a net balance of trade surplus with China, selling £1.74 billion more last year than it imported.
The Prime Minister visited Birmingham Airport in April to announce the completion of the Airport’s new long haul runway extension, allowing direct long-haul flights to emerging economies previously out of reach, such as Brazil and China, as well as tourist hotspots like the West Coast of the USA. The runway is part of the Airport’s £200 million long-term investment programme.
Birmingham Airport has recorded the busiest May in its history, as almost 900,000 passengers passed through the terminal last month, a 5.3% increase compared to the same period last year. May’s figures also saw a major rise in the number of passengers flying on long-haul services from Birmingham, up by 14.5% compared to May last year.