Air China will start flying the UK’s only non-stop service between the UK and Chengdu - the prosperous capital of Sichuan province in China – on July 3rd.
The flight will become 67th long-haul route out of Gatwick.
Three flights a week will connect the UK with China’s fourth biggest city which – located in the geographic centre of the country – is developing the country’s largest western transport and logistics hub.
The new service has the capacity of over 45,000 seats and over 1,500 metric tonnes of cargo per year.
Business passengers can take advantage of opportunities in a city hosting over 270 Fortune 500 companies - and one known as a hub for scientific and technological innovation - and a current focus on attracting foreign start-up companies to take up residency.
Culturally, one of the city’s biggest attractions is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where visitors can view endangered giant pandas in a natural habitat.
Sichuan Province is home to around 80 per cent of China’s population of wild pandas.
Air China - the country’s flag carrying airline - will fly an Airbus A330-300 on the service which will depart from Gatwick on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The flights depart Gatwick at 22:00 and arrive at Chengdu at 15:40 the next day where passengers have 50 onward domestic connections available, in addition to international connections to Bangkok, Colombo, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.
Guy Stephenson, chief commercial officer, Gatwick Airport, 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.
“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.”