It’s all smiles as British Airways’ first aircraft to fly to Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda, sports a huge grin just days before it takes to the skies.
The Boeing 777-200 was specially painted to look like a smiling Giant Panda to mark the start of the new three times a week service to Chengdu on September 22nd.
Chengdu is the fourth British Airways route to China and the first new destination for the airline to the country, since flights were launched to Shanghai in 2005.
British Airways will be the only UK carrier to offer a direct service between Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and London Heathrow.
Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “Chengdu is a fascinating venue for leisure travellers, and is known around the world for its famous giant pandas and excellent fiery Sichuan cuisine.
“As one of China’s largest cities, Chengdu is also an economic power house, having expanded rapidly, consistently delivering double-digit rates of growth.
“This new route demonstrates the importance of mainland China to British Airways and our commitment to grow our presence there.
“We are confident that the new route between Chengdu and London will prove popular with customers travelling between the two major economic hubs.”
Reflecting the Chinese belief that eight is an auspicious number, the flight number for the service from Chengdu to London is BA88 and BA89 from London to Chengdu.
The route will be served by a four-cabin Boeing 777 with First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy).