Links to Chengdu boosted by upgraded service


Heathrow has welcomed Air China’s thrice weekly service to Chengdu, home to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base and Sichuan Cuisine. The launch of the service comes as new CEBR research shows a significant rise in the value of Chinese exports via Heathrow.

Heathrow’s new route to Chengdu is the airport’s 12th direct connection to China. The number of Chinese connections via the UK’s hub airport has more than doubled since the start of 2018, when there were just five routes available. To fly to Chengdu, Air China will use an A330-200 aircraft facilitating the transport of 80,000 passengers a year and 3,744 tonnes of cargo between China and the UK.

Heathrow’s latest Trade Tracker, by economic analysts CEBR, shows that while China’s own exports have decreased, the exports to China from Heathrow are not showing any sign of slowing down. China is now the third most valuable export destination from the airport, following the US and the EU. Exports via Heathrow to China have grown in value by 135% in 2018 compared to 2017, totalling over £7 billion. The same analysis shows that, on average, every operational hour at Heathrow sees nearly £10 million of exports fly out across the world.

An analysis of Heathrow cargo data value reveals the top exports flying via the airport to China in 2018. The top annual export, pharmaceuticals, was valued at an astounding US$461.05 million. Other top exports by value include:

  1. Aerospace materials – US $334.24 million
  2. Art – US $151.9 million
  3. Computers – US $67.69 million
  4. Clothing and fashion accessories – US $29.8 million
  5. Footwear – US $12.6 million

Heathrow’s Chief Commercial Officer Ross Baker said:

“Each plane flown from Heathrow to China not only carries passengers, but also the best of UK fashion, art and industry exports in its bellyhold. As we plan for a future outside of the EU, growing connections from Heathrow, the UK’s biggest port by value, to cities like Chengdu, is essential to keep our country an outward-looking trading nation.”


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