A vital new long-haul connection from London Gatwick to Shanghai – China’s largest city – has been announced as Gatwick recorded year-on-year long-haul growth of 20.8% during July.

The new service will be flown by China Eastern – the country’s second biggest airline – and will connect the UK to one of the world’s leading business centres, providing over 70,000 seats and more than 3,700 metric tonnes of new cargo capacity each year.

Shanghai is seen as the showpiece of China’s dramatic economic growth and, like London, is a global financial centre. It is also the leading city driving the Yangtze River Economic Zone – a region accounting for 20% of China’s GDP and responsible for a third of the country’s imports and exports.

The launch of the new route follows the busiest July in Gatwick’s history, which saw the volume of cargo handled by the airport grow by 28.8% year-on-year as a direct result of its soaring long-haul growth.

Gatwick, which is a member of Greater Brighton, saw its Asia routes grew by 134.8% compared with July last year, while the airport’s US connections continue to prove popular, with New York 67.5%, Boston 58.7% and Las Vegas 32.5%. Tampa saw a 5.3% increase in passenger numbers in July, ahead of the launch of new Norwegian flights from Gatwick to the Florida city this October.

The new China Eastern Airlines service to Shanghai will begin on 7th December 2018. The Airbus A330-200 will depart from Gatwick on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 12:00 and will fly to Shanghai Pudong Airport.

Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick Airport, pictured right, 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.”