Barcelona wants flights to Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai

Barcelona City Council launches China Desk, a service to encourage Chinese investment

Aiport control tower in Barcelona.
Aiport control tower in Barcelona.

Barcelona Council will help the city’s El Prat airport to improve its global connections, Deputy Mayor Jaume Collboni announced on February 20.

The initiative is in collaboration with the city’s Chamber of Commerce, the Catalan Government and AENA, the public company in charge of civil air navigation and civil airports in Spain.

Collboni said that the goal is to establish direct air connections with Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (South Korea), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Shanghai (China), Los Angeles (USA), San Francisco (USA), Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong (China), Mexico City (Mexico), Boston (USA), Delhi (India), Chicago (USA) and Santiago de Chile (Chile).

"In September 2017 Barcelona will host World Routes – the most important global meeting of the airline industry, international airports and territorial promotion agencies. It will be an opportunity to position the city and establish new routes," Collboni said.

In fact, most of the routes that the City Council envisages have already been announced. From April Korean Air will offer direct flights from Barcelona to Seoul; Air China will join the Catalan capital with Shanghai from May; Norwegian will offer direct flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles and San Francisco from June; and Cathay Pacific will operate flights from Barcelona to Hong Kong four times a week.

Most of the routes that the City Council envisages have already been announced

World Routes isn’t the only way that Barcelona Council is trying to attract foreign investment: the city also wants to entice foreign companies that have been affected by Brexit or the market instability that has followed Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Unsurprisingly, the Catalan capital has China in its sights and is set to launch China Desk to help Chinese companies that want to invest in the city.

Collboni said that the City Council will invest €7 million in promoting economic relations with foreign countries, in order to create stable, high-quality employment. He added that any promotion must include the whole metropolitan area of Barcelona, rather than just the city itself, and this is why he has asked for support from the Fira de Barcelona and the trade board of Zona Franca, an industrial area located in the Sants-Montjuïc district of the city.

The Council intends to create an Advisory Council for the Promotion of the City, made up of experts from business, academia and research, who will “join forces to make Barcelona an attractive city for business.”

It will also launch International House, a service to attract foreign talent to the city and help newcomers to get established. “We have to be to be the leading city in startups and Mobile World Congress is a good ally in this,” Collboni said

English version by Cèlia Roura, Jennifer Navarro and Danique Hoekstra.

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From November 2016 onward, the Catalan edition of EL PAÍS, Elpais.cat, has been publishing a selection of news stories in English.

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