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Air China launches UK’s only flights to Chengdu

The route is a major transport and logistics gateway into central and western China.

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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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Former Horsham Council CEO appointed as Chair for GATCOM

New Chair brings substantial experience of chairing committees and similar bodies locally and across the South East.

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New Chair of GATCOM, Tom Crowley.

Tom Crowley – the former Chief Executive of Horsham District Council – has been appointed as the new Chair of Gatwick Airport’s Consultative Committee (GATCOM) – the statutory, independent advisory body and ‘critical friend’ of the airport, it was announced today.

Tom will take up his new role in January 2019 – for a minimum of period of four years – and brings with him substantial experience chairing committees and similar bodies locally and across the South East region. He is also currently Chair of Empty Homes – a national research and campaigning charity – and a Governor of the Chichester College Group.

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Before his appointment as Horsham’s Chief Executive in 2005, Tom held senior management roles at Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Arun District Council.

In its 62 year history, the 28-strong committee has maintained an independent and unbiased approach in its overarching objective, which is to ensure the future success of Gatwick Airport, while paying particular regard to the impact it has on the surrounding communities and the environment.

The outgoing Chair – Dr John Godfrey – will leave his role in December 2018 after announcing his retirement after eleven years in post. His achievements during this period have been described by Stewart Wingate – Gatwick’s CEO – as ‘considerable’ and include leading the committee through the sale of the airport by BAA to Global Infrastructure Partners in 2009.

John also steered GATCOM through major challenges such as the public consultations on a second runway and the airport’s master plan, through the use of and changes to flight paths, the establishment of the Gatwick Noise Management Board and helped to generate support to secure enhanced rail services to the airport.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said:

“I congratulate and look forward to working closely with Tom in his new role as Chair. This post is fundamental to the strength of GATCOM and the committee plays a key role advising me and my senior team about issues of concern to our local communities or that impact the local environment.

“I would also like to express my personal gratitude to Dr John Godfrey for dedicating over a decade to the role. I very much value his contribution to GATCOM and his achievements during his tenure have been considerable and have helped shape the direction the airport.”

Dr John Godfrey, outgoing GATCOM Chair, said:

“I join Stewart in congratulating Tom on his appointment and wish him well in his new role. GATCOM acts as a bridge between the airport management and all the various agencies and interests which make up the wider community which the airport serves. Tom’s background and experience equip him to make a major contribution to the important work of the UK’s leading airport consultative committee.”

Tom Crowley, incoming GATCOM Chair, said:

“I am delighted to have been selected for this important position. Having lived and worked locally for almost forty years I am acutely aware of the economic benefits that Gatwick brings but I also appreciate that the airport’s development and operation generates significant environmental impacts.

“GATCOM plays a vital role in representing the interests of those who benefit from and are affected by the airport and it provides an effective forum to promote constructive dialogue with Gatwick’s senior managers.”

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