Stansted Airport wants to be the ‘Chinese gateway to the East of England’

speakers including Stansted CEO Ken O'Toole (R) at East of England China Forum

speakers including Stansted CEO Ken O'Toole (R) at East of England China Forum - Credit: Archant

Stansted Airport has been stepping up talks with China on launching new long-haul routes to the East.

CGI image of Stansted's new arrivals terminal. Picture: London Stansted Airport

CGI image of Stansted's new arrivals terminal. Picture: London Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

The Essex airport welcomed a senior delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce last week to view progress on the airport’s £600 million investment programme, and to learn more about the opportunities that exist for Chinese airlines to provide direct long-haul service into Stansted.

The visit follows the official launch last month in Parliament of the East of England China Forum, which aims to create a new partnership between the region and China to stimulate inward investment, tourism spend, student numbers and export opportunities by securing a Chinese air link.

Chief Executive of Stansted Airport, Ken O’Toole, said that his ambition is for Stansted to be the “Chinese gateway to the East of England”, helping attract more investors and tourists to the region. “The London-Stansted-Cambridge economic corridor is already one of the UK’s major success stories, and improved connectivity and access will only help build on this great track record,” he said.

“Stansted is forecast to deliver up to 50 per cent of London’s expected passenger growth over the next decade, so it’s vital we showcase what a great asset the airport is so we can take full advantage of the opportunities arising from greater economic co-operation between the UK and China.”

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Last year, China accounted for 30% of all global economic growth and the country’s sustained expansion has created a surge in UK-bound tourism and investment, as well as increased demand for British education, research capabilities, goods and services. In 2016, the combined value of imports and exports between the East of England and China was valued at £4.3 billion.

Stansted’s commercial director Aboudy Nasser reveals that China isn’t the only potential new route that he has his sights set on. “We are of course talking to North American carriers, and have had a lot of positive interest, highlighting our innovative approach when we speak to them,” he said. “We bring them over here, show them around the airport and demonstrate how easy it is to operate into Stansted - something airlines are not always aware of.

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“We have some exciting, unique partnerships in progress which I hope to share very soon...Beyond North American carriers, we are furthering talks with airlines serving India and the Far East, developing the long-haul relationships and networks across the board. It’s a long game, because when you’re talking about long-haul, the radius becomes quite wide. For an airline it isn’t just Stansted versus Heathrow or Gatwick, it could be London versus Sao Paolo, Europe versus South America before you even get to the ‘local’ detail of which London airport.”

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