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16 March, 2006 - 09:02 By Staff Reporter

Stansted given fresh heart

Stansted Airport has been handed a golden opportunity to cash in on the frustration of Chinese carriers with limited capacity at Heathrow.Stansted Airport has been handed a golden opportunity to cash in on the frustration of Chinese carriers with limited capacity at Heathrow.

Managing director Terry Morgan has just returned from a series of summits in China with leading airlines and is confident he has succeeded in progressing a dialogue designed to plumb Chinese carriers directly into London and Cambridge through the Essex hub.

Morgan’s fast-track mission saw him cover a lot of ground. He initially flew to Beijing for two days where he met with representatives from the Chinese equivalent of the Civil Aviation Authority.

“I had a very constructive meeting with the government officials responsible for the UK-Chinese bilateral air traffic regulations,” he said.

Morgan then winged south to Guangzhou province, which is a designated Special Economic Zone. There he met with China Southern Airlines to talk about a potential hook up with Stansted, before moving on to the commercial capital of China, Shanghai. He also visited Hong Kong.

Morgan said the Chinese airlines and airport executives that he met were keen to hear about the hi-tech, knowledge-based industries in the East of England region.

“Many of the airlines were also attracted by Stansted’s comprehensive European network, which would allow long haul travellers to easily connect to a huge range of European business destinations, especially in developing markets.”

Why is China so important to Stansted? Morgan said: “At Stansted, we recognise the huge potential benefit of direct connections to China in terms of trade, commerce and tourism.

“Currently two Chinese airlines – Air China and China Eastern – operate services to Heathrow.

“However, many Chinese carriers are frustrated at the lack of capacity at Heathrow – and this is where Stansted can benefit as a viable alternative.”

James Gray, chief executive of East of England International, praised Stansted’s efforts to bring direct routes from China into the region.

Gray said: “There are huge opportunities for growth in a number of markets, for Stansted, for the region and for the UK.

“Traffic from China is massive in terms of students coming here to learn at the region’s world-leading universities, in terms of tourism and – increasingly – in respect of business.

“We are tremendously excited about what these hook-ups could mean for the East of England and are aware how energetically Terry and his colleagues at BAA Stansted are working on this initiative.”

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