Deal done after years of talks
First direct flights will link Edinburgh and Beijing
Chinese tourists are a growth market for Edinburgh (photo by Terry Murden)
Flights between Edinburgh and Beijing will begin this summer, providing a key connection for Scotland into the world’s fastest growing economy.
The ground-breaking announcement follows three years of negotiations and will see Hainan Airlines begin flights from 12 June.
It is part of an innovative flight model which links three capital cities – Beijing, Edinburgh and Dublin. The route will fly from Beijing to Dublin and then onto Edinburgh and then back to Beijing on Thursdays and Sundays, flying to Edinburgh and then Dublin and then back to Beijing on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
It marks the culmination of Edinburgh Airport’s partnership working with colleagues in China to attract these routes to Scotland in a move which will benefit the country’s economy, culture and tourism.
Chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar said: “This is a fantastic day for Edinburgh Airport and for Scotland as we connect Scotland and China for the first time.
“We are two countries steeped in history and rich in culture, offering new destinations for people from both countries to visit and explore.
“Edinburgh is second only to London as the most popular UK destination for Chinese tourists, and we have worked incredibly hard with partners across the city and country to get to this point.”
Mr Dewar (right) added that relationship building and working with partners in both countries has been crucial to the announcement.
“A number of organisations shared our vision in attracting this route to Scotland, and it’s testament to our working together with both UK and Scottish governments and bodies such as Scottish Enterprise, Visit Scotland and Edinburgh Hoteliers Association among others that we’ve finally achieved it.
“Edinburgh Tourism Action Group’s China Ready programme has also prepared the city for this growing market, so we are in good shape.
“Of course, we’ve also built close relationships with firms in China who have been instrumental in this development and we thank them for their assistance.
“Hainan Airlines have been a huge help and they must be congratulated for this innovative approach to tie the Celtic capitals of Edinburgh and Dublin into the route and open up these cities to the Chinese market.”
Mr Bao Qifa`s, chairman of Hainan Airlines, said: “This opening of the first nonstop service from Beijing to Dublin and Edinburgh will provide new facilities to stimulate the development of Sino-Irish and Sino-British relations.”
Scotland’s Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “China is a major importer of Scottish goods and services – food and drink in particular – and this flight will give Scottish businesses a direct link into this important market.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “This first-ever direct flight from China to Scotland is fantastic news and marks an exciting gear change for Scottish tourism and its engagement with the Chinese market.
“Already in recent years we have seen a steady rise in Chinese visitors to our shores and have been working closely with businesses across Scotland to help them to access this important opportunity.
“At the same time, we have been working with Chinese travel companies to continue to develop the range of Scottish holidays available to their clients.
“At our own VisitScotland Expo travel trade fair in Glasgow next month we will be hosting 35 Chinese tour operators, keen to do business with Scotland, and today’s announcement by Hainan Airlines will offer further encouragement for them to drive forward their plans to increase the number of Chinese visitors choosing Scotland as their next destination.”