Heathrow and Avianca partner to provide UK’s first direct connection to Columbia

London Heathrow Airport has announced a deal with Colombia's national airline Avianca to provide the UK with its first direct connection to Colombia for nine years.

As part of the Star Alliance, from July, Avianca's passengers will be offered four flights a week through Heathrow's new second terminal, which will open this June.

Although initial discussions between Heathrow and Avianca took place in 2009, it took about five years for the deal to be established due to a connectivity crunch.

Avianca waited for the availability of suitable take-off and landing slots from other airlines before it was able to secure the slots it needed.

"The new Heathrow-Bogota route will be a huge boost to trade and tourism between the UK."

UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Colombia is one of the world's most promising economies and the deal will help the UK meet its new bilateral trade target of £4bn by 2020."

Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews said: "The world's economic centre of gravity is shifting and Britain needs to capitalise on links to fast growing economies like Colombia.

"We would like to welcome more flights bringing trade and jobs to the UK but a lack of hub airport capacity means we are less well connected than we could be."

Avianca CEO Fabio Villegas said: "The new Heathrow-Bogota route will be a huge boost to trade and tourism between the UK and Colombia."

Columbia belongs to a new group of growing economies called 'CIVETS' (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) that are characterised by high prospects for growth in the coming decades.