Heathrow welcomed the first direct flight from the Chinese city of Chongqing at the weekend, marking the launch of its 10th route to the eastern superpower.
The first arrival of the three times weekly service to the economic hub, and burgeoning tourist destination, touched down at Heathrow on Saturday (August 25).
Tianjin Airlines will operate the route using Airbus A330-200 aircraft, departing Heathrow Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The route will have capacity for 81,000 passengers a year travelling to what is China’s most populous municipality, part of the country’s West Triangle economic zone, which is completed by Chengdu and Xi’an and accounts for nearly 40% of western China’s GDP.
Tourists, meanwhile, can take advantage of the route to access the Yangtze River via the Three Gorges Dam, Chongqing’s ancient Ciqikou district and its culinary hotspots and festivals.
Ross Baker, Heathrow’s chief commercial officer, said: “We are tremendously pleased to welcome our 10th direct connection to China – [a] direct link to some of the most stunning scenery and culinary experiences China has to offer.
“Heathrow is proud of its role as the UK’s Hub airport and biggest gateway for Chinese passengers and cargo going between our two countries.”
Baker added plans to expand Heathrow with a new third runway would ensure London was the "destination of choice" for Chinese trade, tourism and investment.
Besides Chongqing, Heathrow has added Wuhan, Sanya, Changsa and Xi’an.
The route will also accommodate up to 3,744 tonnes annual exports. According to Heathrow, routes to China via Heathrow contributed £510 million to the UK economy.