First direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing to launch in June

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THE first direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing will take off in June, it has been confirmed.

Carrier Hainan Airlines will operate two direct flights a week between the city and the Chinese capital from June 12, with two further routes via Dublin set to run at the same time.

Flights will begin in June.

Flights will begin in June.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Airport to confirm direct flights to China

The route announcement is reportedly the culmination of three years of negotiations between airport bosses and their Chinese counterparts in a move that could attract thousands more tourists to Edinburgh from the Far East.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, hailed the move as “incredibly exciting,” adding: “Edinburgh is second only to London as the most popular UK destination for Chinese tourists and we have worked incredibly hard with partners across the city and the country to get to this point.”

“This is an incredibly exciting day for the airport, for the city and for the country. Tourism is one of our biggest economic drivers and still has masses of potential to unleash.”

A total of 41,000 visits were made from China to Scotland in 2016, which generated spending of £36 million.

READ MORE: Edinburgh’s average hotel rates hit £100 a night

Scottish exports to China reached £2.5 billion in the year to last September.

Edinburgh Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport signed a ground-breaking partnership agreement last May.

Economy secretary Keith Brown said: “This new air link between Scotland and China is excellent news, helping to strengthen relations between our two countries and build on the cultural and economic links that we already have.”