Stockholm and China to improve transport connections

Published March 2016 in collaboration between Invest Stockholm and The Swedish Wire.

Business links between Stockholm and China are poised to improve, with new aviation agreements being signed, more direct flights and more Chinese cities opening up for visa-on-arrival. 

Last month, Swedish airport operator Swedavia signed an agreement to establish a relationship with Beijing Capital International Airport and the country’s airport operator Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH).

It is expected to lead to increased connectivity between the capitals of the two countries and paves the way for a new period of collaboration between the airports.

“Through the bond of sisterhood, the two sides will bring closer ties, enhance mutual trust and deepen friendship to open a new chapter for future cooperation,” said President and CEO of CAH Liu Xuesong.

The agreement arrives as figures show that the amount of international passengers traveling between the two capitals has grown ten times faster in the past 15 years at Stockholm Arlanda Airport than between Stockholm and other international destinations. The number of Chinese tourists in Sweden increased 28 percent last year.

But the partnership is the result of more than just increased travel demand. For the Chinese operator, it is a way to learn to operate an environmentally friendly airport: Capital Airports Holding Company said it wants to learn how to operate a more sustainable airport from Swedavia.

“As environmental industry leaders, we hope to be able to share best practices from our work for how to become a sustainable airport,” said Karl Wistrand, Group CEO at Swedavia.

The news of the agreement came as Air China announced increased flight frequency to Stockholm, from seven to ten departures a week. Stockholm Arlanda Airport is the only Nordic airport served by a Chinese carrier, Air China.

Last September, Scandinavia’s biggest airline, SAS, started non-stop flights between Stockholm and Hong Kong. The former British colony is one of the world’s busiest airports, and SAS is the only Scandinavian airline to fly there direct.

Connectivity with China is also getting easier as more Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, roll out a plan with a three-day visa offered on arrival. At present, 18 cities have adopted this policy. The Chinese government also recently introduced a six-day transit policy for international travelers to the economic hub Yangtze River Delta.

China is Sweden’s largest trade partner in Asia. Apart from approximately 10,000 Swedish companies that trade with China, over 500 Swedish companies are established in China.