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Direct flights between Heathrow and Zhengzhou link ancient cities for first time

Updated: Jun 27, 2019 By Bo Leung in London China Daily Global Print
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The famous Shaolin Temple in Zhengzhou, Henan province is now easier to visit for fans of Chinese kung fu. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Europe's first direct flight from Zhengzhou, the capital of central China's Henan province, landed at London's Heathrow Airport on Tuesday.

The route, which will be operated by China Southern Airlines, will feature return flights that will make the round-trip twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Aircraft will leave Zhengzhou on each of the two days, at 4:10 pm, local time, and arrive in London at 8:10 pm,UK time. Return flights will leave Heathrow Airport at 10:10 pm. It will take aircraft between 10 and 11 hours to complete the route in each direction.

Heathrow says China Southern Airlines will offer 55,328 seats a year on the route and transport 2,293 metric tons of cargo, annually, between the UK capital and the metropolis on the Yellow River that can trace its history back to when it was the capital of the Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC).

The flights are China Southern Airlines' latest non-stop links with London. Other routes connect the city with the Pearl River Delta city of Guangzhou, Wuhan,which is the capital of central China's Hubei province, and Sanya, in south China's Hainan province.

"The opening of the route will further provide greater convenience for passengers from the central plains of China to enter Europe, and European tourists to enter China," said Xiao Yong, deputy director of the commercial steering committee at China Southern Airlines. "It will facilitate and strengthen the central city of Zhengzhou, Henan, and China and…contribute to the prosperity of the Chinese and British aviation market."

Zhengzhou is also a manufacturing hub, with 70 percent of Apple iPhones sold worldwide manufactured in the city.

The non-stop flight is Heathrow's 13th direct connection to China, which is more than double the number of routes there were in 2018.

Ross Baker, Heathrow's chief commercial officer,said: "The launch of our new route to Zhengzhou is an exciting opportunity for passengers and will provide Europe's only direct connection to this unique Chinese destination. At Heathrow, we are committed to opening-up more routes to China as part of our strategy to drive forward the UK's global connectivity for years to come."

Xue Ling, director of the China National Tourist Office, London, said: "Henan province is considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. Apart from the natural scenery represented by Mount Song and Yuntai Mountain, there is the local culture of the Shaolin Monastery, and tai chi from Wenxian county."

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