London Gatwick Airport launched a new route on Friday (7 December) to the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai as China Eastern departed around midday.
The airline – the second-largest in China – will fly from Shanghai Pudong International Airport from Gatwick three times every week – on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays – using an Airbus A330-200, providing over 70,000 seats in both directions every year.
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.
Gatwick Airport chief commercial officer, Guy Stephenson 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.
“With China being one of the UK’s main trading partners, this is a vital business route connecting two of the world’s most important cities – but Shanghai is equally an exciting and much sought-after tourist destination. We’re pleased to welcome China Eastern to Gatwick for the first time and are delighted that our passengers now have direct access to everything that China’s largest city has to offer.”