London Gatwick has launched a new route to Shanghai, giving British passengers direct access to an area responsible for a third of China’s imports and exports.
The first flight of the new service, operated by China Eastern, departed Gatwick at midday on Friday.
The airline – the second-largest in China – is set to fly to Shanghai Pudong Airport from Gatwick three times every week – on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays – using an Airbus A330-200.
The route will provide over 70,000 seats and over 3,700 metric tonnes of cargo capacity – in both directions – every year.
Shanghai is China’s largest city and one of the world’s fastest-developing metropolises.
Viewed as the showpiece of China’s dramatic growth, Shanghai dominates the Yangtze River Economic Zone – a region accounting for 20 per cent of China’s GDP.
The new Shanghai route is a response to an increase in demand from Gatwick passengers for flights to China.
The number travelling to the country from Gatwick grew by 54.3 per cent year-on-year during the first half of the current financial year.
The route will also help to continue the growth of inbound tourism from China to the UK.
A recent Oxford Economics report estimated that the spending of international tourists who arrive through Gatwick adds £6.1 billion to the UK’s GDP.
Gatwick’s long-haul network comprises over 60 different routes, with one in six of the airport’s 46 million annual passengers now travelling to long-haul destinations.
Guy Stephenson, chief commercial officer, Gatwick Airport said: “The addition of one of the world’s biggest financial centres to Gatwick’s route network is very good news for the UK, particularly as connections to China and other non-European countries are set to take on extra significance in the New Year and beyond.”