British passengers will be able to fly directly to one of Chinas eight ancient capital cities from today, as China Southern launches Europes first direct route to Zhengzhou.

The flight will carry holidaymakers into the heart of ancient Chinese culture, where they will be able to explore the famous Shaolin Monastery and Pagoda Forest, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site that it is considered to be the birthplace of the ancient martial art of kung-fu.

The city is also a vitally important Chinese manufacturing hub and a key business destination.

Some 70 per cent of all Apple iPhones sold worldwide are also manufactured there.

The city is one of the most important textile centres in the country, meaning that British businesses and passengers are now able to directly access the heart of industrial – as well as ancient – China.

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The new route means that Heathrow now offers an unrivalled 13 direct connections to Chinese destinations.

The flight will be operated by twice weekly out of Terminal 4 and use a 787-800 aircraft.

It will allow for an annual 55,328 seats and 2,080 tonnes of cargo space.

Ross Baker, Heathrow chief commercial officer, said: “The launch of our new route to Zhengzhou is an exciting opportunity for passengers and will provide Europes only direct con

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