Chinese aircraft giant in UK snub

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on May 21, 2012

China’s largest aircraft manufacturer has snubbed the British capital London and opened its new European headquarters elsewhere, rekindling the debate over the lack of aviation links the UK has to major emerging economies.

Chinese aviation giant COMAC, which has already signed an agreement with budget carrier Ryanair that will see it develop a new 200-seat aircraft, has reportedly been influenced by better connections that Paris has to China from its Charles de Gaulle International Airport. While Paris’ four runway hub currently offers five services to China that are non-stop, Heathrow only serves four.

Even starker is the gap between the amount of cities that the two hubs serve. While Charles De Gaulle serves 232 cities directly, Heathrow serves just 163. Companies have been fearing that COMAC is to set a new trend as other outfits consider where their European headquarters should be placed.

COMAC’s decision is to heap pressure on the Government’s aviation policies, with the South East’s lack of capacity impossible to ignore. Heathrow, which runs at full capacity, will lose its current status as being the planet’s busiest international airport in 2016, which is when Dubai will knock it from the top of the heap.

The UK’s Coalition government, which scrapped plans to build a third runway for Heathrow, is under increasing pressure from leading figures of the aviation industry and the corporate world to reconsider its decision.

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