Air China has scrapped its direct flights to Gatwick airport, concentrating instead on its existing flights to Heathrow, the Telegraph has reported.
The decision by China’s leading carrier is the latest in a number of similar withdrawals from London’s second airport by major world airlines over the past five years, although some of these have been replaced by new additions, and the airport’s authorities are hopeful that Air China’s exit will be a temporary one, with a resumption of the service next summer.
In a statement the airport said, ‘Air China has made a decision not to operate services between London Gatwick and Beijing this winter. Passenger numbers on the Gatwick-Beijing route have been strong since it was launched in May 2012. However, over this summer Air China increased the capacity on its aircraft operating out of Heathrow and this has prompted the decision to temporarily withdraw services from Gatwick for the winter season. Air China intends to operate this route again out of Gatwick from next summer and we shall be working hard to return it to a year-round service.’
The withdrawal has also been seen in some quarters as an affirmation that a central hub airport is imperative to the UK’s aviation industry, as major airlines find these more practical to operate from than separate airports.
Daniel Moylan, aviation adviser to London mayor, Boris Johnson, was quoted in the Telegraph, saying, ‘London and the UK economy need a proper, well-functioning hub airport with room for growth. No amount of pretending that is not so is going to give Britain the sort of infrastructure it needs.’