Air China will next week (July 3) launch the UK’s first direct service to Chengdu, China’s fourth biggest city.
Flights will depart Gatwick at 10pm every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Chengdu at 3.40pm the following day.
Chengdu is the capital of China’s central Sichuan province, opening up transit to the west of the country.
It is one of China’s largest business hubs, and also renowned for its scientific and technological industries. Sichuan, meanwhile, is home to 80% of China’s wild pandas.
Air China will operate the route using offer Airbus A330-300, offering three cabins - economy, premium economy and business.
The route, Gatwick’s 67th long-haul route, adds capacity for 45,000 Chengdu seats a year.
In addition to 50 domestic connections, international connections from Chengdu include Bangkok, Colombo, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo.
Guy Stephenson, Gatwick’s chief commercial officer, said: “Chengdu is a strategically important destination and a major logistical hub so this new route, the UK’s only direct flight, opens up a range of opportunities to access markets throughout central and western China, be it by air, road or rail.
“UK visitors now also have a fast, direct route to Chengdu, one of China’s most culturally significant destinations and one that attracts millions of tourists from around the globe every year."
Chen Hongbing, Air China general manager UK and Ireland, added: “Air China’s Gatwick-Chengdu route is the 30th route opened by Air China between China and Europe.
“We hope to set up an air bridge through this route to provide passengers with more convenience and choice. We hope to promote the friendly exchanges between the people from our two countries and promote the political, economic and cultural exchanges between the two cities and the two countries.”