Tianjin Airlines launched a new direct flight from London to Xi’an on Monday, connecting the UK capital to the eastern departure point of the ancient Silk Road for the first time. Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi province.

The AirBus 330 aircraft, departs at 3:15 pm from Xi’an Xianyang International Airport and will arrive at London Heathrow Airport after a 14-hour journey. Flight GS7987 offers a twice-a-week service on every Monday and Friday, carrying up to 260 passengers.

The service is the airline’s second Britain-China air route after Tianjin-Chongqing-London flight that started in June 2017, linking Beijing’s neighboring megacity Tianjin and Chongqing to Britain.

As the departure point of the ancient Silk Road that connected Europe to Asia centuries ago, Xi’an is home to numerous historic relics, including the must-see Terracotta Warriors, a World Heritage Site.

The airline’s Xi’an effort is also riding on the steady growth in economic ties, trade, cultural exchange and tourism between the two countries since the “China-Britain Cultural Exchange Year” was launched in 2015.

About 115,000 Chinese tourists traveled to the UK in the first 6 months of 2017, a 47% increase year-on-year. They spent £231 million during their travels, a 54% increase year-on-year.

The airline connects Xi’an to more than 40 cities and operates over 200 flights per week with 15 aircrafts. Tianjin Airlines is the 4th largest airline by market share in Xi’an. Connecting Europe and Asia is only part of the airline’s global expansion plan. It also launched a cross-hemisphere service from Xi’an to New Zealand in December 2017. Flights to America are also planned.

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