Looks like more and more people want to fly to Beijing. Or away from it. Regardless, the big travel news this week is that Air China plans to double the number of flights from Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) to London Heathrow, beginning in October. This comes after all the bluster earlier this year about Air China flying or not flying into London Gatwick. Air China currently offers three flights per day to Heathrow, some with stops in Shanghai Pudong. Doubling capacity is a ton of flights, and after the increase, China’s national carrier will offer 51 flights per week to Heathrow from various destinations within China. Heathrow’s CEO gloated about it big time: “It’s also recognition that despite other UK airports having spare capacity, only Heathrow can deliver daily, direct flights to emerging economies that will help Britain win the global race for growth. Gatwick can’t, Heathrow can," he said. Wow.
I certainly hope that the increased capacity will also reduce airfares, even though Heathrow is one of, if not the most expensive airport in the world in terms of fees charged to airlines and then passed on to passengers. With flights from both the US and China running well over USD 1,000 per person, it’s quite a surprise to see so much demand for air travel there, especially heading into the winter. An Air China flight from Beijing to Heathrow departing September 10 and returning September 17 is over RMB 12,000 for economy. That’s ridiculous.
Once again visitors to Beijing can take advantage of deals that aren’t available going the other way. Fly from Washington, DC to Beijing on one of a few airlines (Hainan Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada) for USD 769, with stops in Seattle or Toronto. Not a bad deal at all, if not quite a long flight.
If Heathrow seems unappealing, how about … Bucharest. Romania’s national airline, Tarom, will start flying direct from the Romanian capital to the Chinese capital on September 16. Fares will be about EUR 600 (RMB 6,000). Might not be a bad flight for people traveling to Eastern Europe.
The Rosewood Hotel at the northwest corner of Jingguang Qiao is set to open this autumn. We’ve been threatening to go over and take a look, but until then, DestinAsian has some photos here.
Now we understand why there’s all the excitement about Kempinski’s massive new Yanqi Lake complex: it’s the site of the APEC meeting later this month. The lake is also the subject of a song by rocker Xie Tianxiao and his first band, Cold Blooded Animal. Check the song out here.
Not too bad for a Tuesday. By the way, flying on the east coast of China is still a joke. Take the train until August 20 unless you have a great book you’ve been keen to finish. In the meantime, one road flat safe.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on August 12, 2014.