Air China will start flying the UK’s only direct service between the UK and Chengdu – the country’s western transport and logistics hub – from 3 July.
The Chinese carrier will service the route three times a week from London Gatwick Airport to Chengdu with an Airbus A330-300 to China’s fourth biggest city, adding cargo capacity of 1500 tonnes a year between Gatwick and China.
Chengdu is located in Sichuan province, which is home to 80 per cent of China’s panda population and is in the geographical centre of the country and boosted by the nation’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to stimulate trade and economic growth across Asia and beyond into Europe for generations.
Air China general manager in the UK and Ireland, Chen Hongbing said: “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.
“In the selection of flight schedules, we fully considered the rationality of the arrival schedule of passengers arriving in London and Chengdu, and the convenience of onward flights and transits. We have confidence that this route will be the best travel option for travellers to flying between London and Chengdu and beyond.”
The Chengdu route is Gatwick Airport’s 67th long haul connection and the airport’s chief commercial officer, Guy Stephenson 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.
“This new service is Gatwick’s 67th long haul route. Our growing long haul network looks set to play an increasingly important role connecting the UK to global markets at this vital stage in the country’s history.”