The Chinese revolution is rapidly gathering pace through Birmingham Airport with Beijing the most popular destination for travellers with airline Lufthansa.
The Chinese capital has overtaken Delhi as the top destination for West Midlands passengers from Birmingham Airport as the Far East colossus continues its development as a huge worldwide power.
The continuing influence and growth of China comes as Lufthansa announced two additional destinations later this summer to the superpower, with new services to Shenyang in the north-east and Qingdao on the eastern seaboard.
Lufthansa said 2011 had been a record-breaking year from Birmingham Airport, with a 19 per cent increase in numbers to 484,503.
Travellers to China from Birmingham, via the Frankfurt link, were up 63.5 per cent year on year.
This comes against a backdrop of rising demand for flights direct to China from Birmingham – which will become possible with a runway extension, which has been given the green light by the airport’s board.
Christian Schindler, Lufthansa’s general manager in the UK and Ireland, said: “The Chinese market keeps on growing for us.
‘‘It is becoming more and more important for the regional economy.
“Business travel is very strong to China and Shenyang and Qingdao will also be strong business markets for us – Shenyang is an automotive centre while Qingdao is one of the 10 biggest ports in the world. We see China as a market for continuing growth.
‘‘We have a variety of travellers – they export, import, they have joint ventures. China is becoming more important all the time.
“There is a wide range of business passengers, from the chemical industry to IT, automotive, oil refining and others.”
Beijing, using the Frankfurt link, currently tops the list of destinations from Birmingham, followed by Mumbai, Delhi and Hong Kong.
The top European destination is Prague, with other popular routes including Hamburg, Nuremburg, Vienna, Dresden and Graz.
Lufthansa is also introducing two new services from Birmingham, with a 12 times a week route to Hamburg from May 2 and a new daily flight to Berlin from June 3.
The Birmingham Post reported last month that plans for a £65 million runway extension at Birmingham Airport had been approved by its board. Construction is due to begin in June 2013 and a new control tower is already being built.
Chief executive Paul Kehoe said it will allow the airport to compete with Manchester for flights to the Far East and the US – on the back of significant demand from the West Midlands business community.