London Heathrow provides UK’s first direct link to Colombia

Colombia’s Avianca is set to join the Star Alliance at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 and will provide the UK with its first direct connection to Colombia for nine years.

Starting this June, Avianca’s passengers will be offered four flights a week, the airport said in a release.

The deal has taken five years to materialise, with Heathrow first talking to Avianca in 2009. Avianca was forced to wait for suitable take-off and landing slots to become available from other airlines before it was able to offer the service.

Colin Matthews, chief executive officer at Heathrow, said: ‘We are delighted that Avianca is coming to Heathrow this summer. The world’s economic centre of gravity is shifting and Britain needs to capitalise on links to fast growing economies like Colombia. We would like to welcome more flights bringing trade and jobs to the UK but a lack of hub airport capacity means we are less well connected than we could be.’

Fabio Villegas, CEO for Avianca, said: ‘The new Heathrow-Bogota route will be a huge boost to trade and tourism between the UK and Colombia. We’re particularly pleased to be operating from Terminal 2, which will offer both world-class facilities and vital network connectivity between us and other members of the Star Alliance.’

Colombia is considered one of the world’s most promising economies and the deal will help the UK meet its new bilateral trade target of £4billion by 2020, deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said on his trade mission to Colombia this week.

Other airlines from major emerging economies are also looking to add new routes at Heathrow but are unable to do so, as the UK’s only hub airport is running at full capacity.

Heathrow is ranked fourth against its European hub rivals for routes to emerging market countries, and this lack of connectivity is estimated to be costing the UK economy £14bn a year in lost trade. The figure could rise to £26 billion a year by 2030, whilst the airport estimates that GBP100 billion of present value would accrue to the UK by expanding Heathrow.