China Eastern will start a new three-weekly Airbus A330-200 route on 7 December between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
The connection to China’s largest city comes as the airport reports year-on-year long-haul growth of 20.8 per cent during July and total passenger numbers for the month were up one per cent to 4.79 million – its busiest ever July. On a rolling 12-month basis, traffic is up 1.4 per cent to 45.8 million.
Gatwick’s Asia routes grew by 134.8 per cent compared with July last year while the airport’s US connections continue to prove popular, with New York up 67.5 per cent, Boston 58.7 per cent and Las Vegas 32.5 per cent.
Tampa saw a 5.3 per cent increase in passenger numbers in July, ahead of the launch of new Norwegian services from Gatwick to the Florida city this October.
The new service by China’s second biggest airline will provide over 70,000 seats each year from Gatwick to Shanghai.
Gatwick Airport chief executive officer, Stewart Wingate said: “I’m delighted to welcome China Eastern to Gatwick and look forward to the start of this vital new link to Shanghai which, like London, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most important cities and business hubs.
“Starting from such a strong position gives this new route every chance of success, as it will be popular with business passengers travelling between the two economic centres, as well as leisure passengers keen to sample the excitement of China’s largest city.
“July’s traffic figures demonstrate that Gatwick’s long-haul network is driving the airport’s growth. These connections to China and other non-European countries will take on extra significance in a post-Brexit Britain as we become more reliant on them to generate vital growth through trade and by exploiting the other business opportunities that they provide.”