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Heathrow provides UK’s first direct link to Colombia

February 11, 2014 Airport No Comments Email Email

Avianca is to provide the UK with its first direct connection to Colombia for nine years. Avianca’s passengers are set to be offered four flights a week through Heathrow’s brand new Terminal 2, which will open this June as the new home for STAR Alliance.

Colombia is 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, as announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on his trade mission to Colombia this week. As the balance of economic displaymediagrowth shifts from the developed world to emerging markets, it’s vital the UK forges new connections in order to remain an attractive place to invest and do business. Colombia is part of a new class of growing economies called CIVETS – Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa – which are characterised by high prospects for growth in the coming decades

The deal has taken five years to come to fruition, with Heathrow first talking to Avianca in 2009. With Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, full, Avianca was forced to wait for suitable take-off and landing slots to become available from other airlines before it was able to secure the slots it needed. Their experience echoes that of China Southern, which had to wait seven years for their slots at Heathrow in order to put on flights to Guangzhou, and Aeromexico, which waited four years for slots to Mexico City.

Other airlines from major emerging economies would also like to add new routes at Heathrow but are unable to do so. 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. That figure could rise to £26 billion a year by 2030, whilst we estimate £100 billion of present value would accrue to the UK from expanding Heathrow.

Colin Matthews, Chief Executive Officer of 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.”

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