LONDON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Direct charter flights between Britain's second biggest city, Birmingham and Beijing are to begin in July, the Birmingham Airport announced in a press release.
The airport will become the first British airport outside London to offer such services.
"This is great news for Birmingham and Britain," said Maria Miller, British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, on Thursday.
"China is a vital trade and tourism partner for us and opening up this new route will encourage even more Chinese visitors to fly to our country and experience more of what our great nation has to offer outside of the capital - from tourist attractions to shopping, culture to heritage," the minister elaborated.
The new route will provide great investment and job opportunities for businesses in Birmingham and the Midlands," she said.
The summer program will involve direct flights operated by China Southern Airlines arriving from Beijing into Birmingham between July 22 and August 6. China Southern Airlines will operate a 248 seat A330-200 aircraft on the route, according to Birmingham Airport.
"This announcement is a result of three years' collaborative working to establish relationships in China and promote the many jewels that the Midlands has to offer, such as The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), and birthplace of English playwright William Shakespeare," said Paul Kehoe, chief executive of the airport.
"This partnership demonstrates the demand is there from passengers across the UK who wants long-haul flights to places like China from their nearest gateway," Kehoe noted.
Statistics showed that China is currently one of the fastest growing visitor source markets for Britain's tourism industry at a rate of 20 percent year-on-year over the past few years, and is forecast to continue to grow strongly in coming years.