Picture by Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick is launching the UK’s first ever direct flights to Chongqing – one of the world’s largest urban centres and a major manufacturing and transportation hub in southwest China.  The twice weekly, year round, flights will then continue to China’s fourth largest city, Tianjin, Gatwick announced today.

Starting from June 25, Chinese carrier Tianjin Airlines will fly the Airbus A330 on the new Gatwick-Chongqing-Tianjin route – the airline’s first long haul flights outside Asia and one that complements its existing network serving over a 100 cities across China.  Both cities are currently not flown to from the UK.

Tianjin Airlines flies over 10 million passengers each year and the new Gatwick route will depart from the airport every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 22:25. Tianjin Airlines boasts onward connections to over 100 Chinese cities. This new route adds to Gatwick’s growing network of over 50 long haul destinations. Tianjin are due to receive their first Airbus A330 in May!

Guy Stephenson, Gatwick’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

By flying into two of China’s most important economic centres, Gatwick is providing vital direct connections for UK business people into some of the most exciting growth markets on the planet.

Tourists from both the UK and China will also benefit, as will non-exporting businesses located in the UK as Chinese visitors are some of the highest spenders.  The number of tourists from China also grew almost 40% last year alone and these numbers are only going to rise.

“The two new Chinese destinations compliment Gatwick’s growing long haul network which now boasts over 50 destinations on four continents.”

Robert Chen, Tianjin General Manager for the UK, said:

“A pricing penetration strategy will be adopted by Tianjin Airlines to win the UK market.”

Patricia Yates, VisitBritain and VisitEngland Director, said:

“China is the world’s largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain. We have ambitions to double the spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion by 2020 and making it easier for them to get here is obviously a really important step in increasing our competitive tourism offer to this rapidly growing market.”

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