Air China launches UK’s only flights to Chengdu – a major transport and logistics gateway into central and western China

27 June 2018

Air China will start flying the UK’s only non-stop service between the UK and Chengdu - the prosperous capital of Sichuan province - next week (3 July), Gatwick Airport said today as it announced its 67th long haul route.

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.  This development is boosted by the nation’s “Belt and Road” initiative to stimulate trade and economic growth across Asia and beyond into Europe for generations.*

The new service has the capacity of over 45000 seats and over 1500 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 world famous 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% of China’s population of wild pandas.  Other famous attractions include:

  • Spicy food – previously a Unesco city of Gastronomy (2011) – the city is famous for its spicy hotpot and the mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorn
  • Changing Faces Chinese Opera where performers switch from mask to mask
  • Teahouse culture and ceremonies
  • A lively nightlife frequented by locals, students and expat populations
  • Archaeological treasures at Jinsha and the Leshan Giant Buddha

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.  Three cabins are available - Business, Premium Economy and Economy class – with highly competitive fares, especially for the first week of travel currently on offer.

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.

Passengers making one of these international connections can also stop over and enjoy the local attractions for 72 hours visa free.  Those travelling in the other direction can benefit from Gatwick’s quick links into central London – including brand new fleets of trains leaving every three to four minutes to Victoria, London Bridge and beyond.

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.

“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.”

Mr Chen Hongbing, General Manager UK and Ireland, Air China, said:

“Air China is proud to be the only flag carrier in China, and as a member of the Star Alliance, represents the image of China. Air China has always been committed to providing convenient, high-quality services to global travellers and has become a link between China and the world.

“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.”

“I welcome all passengers onto this new flight"

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