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Gatwick has followed Birmingham airport in announcing new flights to China.
Chinese carrier Tianjin Airlines will fly an Airbus A330 to Chongqing and Tianjin twice a week from June 25.
The year-round service will be the UK’s first direct flights to Chongqing – one of the world’s largest urban centres and a major manufacturing and transportation hub in southwest China.
The aircraft will then continue to China’s fourth largest city, Tianjin.
Tianjin Airlines’ first long-haul flights outside Asia will complement its existing network serving more than 100 cities in China. The carrier flies more than 10 million passengers a year.
The new Gatwick flights will depart every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10.25pm.
Robert Chen, Tianjin general manager for the UK, said: “A pricing penetration strategy will be adopted by Tianjin Airlines to win the UK market.”
The move follows Birmingham airport confirming the start of flights to Beijing and Shanghai by Beijing Capital Airlines from July 19.
Chongqing is well connected to the nearby Three Gorges Dam – the world’s largest – allowing oceangoing ships to reach Chongqing’s Yangtze River port.
Tianjin is located in northeast China and is the major gateway port serving the capital Beijing.
Gatwick chief commercial officer Guy Stephenson 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.”
VisitBritain and VisitEngland director Patricia Yates 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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