China Southern Airlines Co Ltd began flying between London Heathrow Airport and Guangzhou on Wednesday, the first flight to go from Britain to the capital of Guangdong province.
The company now has three direct flights to Guangzhou leaving from London Heathrow Terminal 4 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays each week.
The new route is expected to boost trade between China and the United Kingdom.
"The launch of the Guangzhou-London air service marks a bold step forward in China Southern's development in the London marketplace," said Si Xianmin, president of China Southern Air Holding Co and chairman of China Southern Airlines.
The direct flights between Guangzhou and London also help passengers who transfer to other planes on their way to places in Europe, Australia or New Zealand.
"This new air service will serve as an air bridge that connects Europe with China and Australasia," Si said.
The company said it plans to have 110 flights a week going to Australian cities by the end of 2015, up from 42 now. China Southern carried about 600,000 passengers to Australia in 2011.
A330-200 aircraft, made by the France-based Airbus SAS, are flying the new London-Guangzhou route, offering first, business, premium economy and economy levels of service.
The new flights are expected to also prove convenient to Chinese sports fans who will fly to London for the Olympic Games this summer.
"It is great news for the UK that China Southern is opening up a new route between Heathrow and Guangzhou," said Colin Matthews, CEO of BAA Airports Ltd, which owns five airports in the UK including London Heathrow.
"We are delighted that China Southern has chosen Heathrow, and we would like to welcome more flights from China Southern and other airlines that could bring jobs and growth to the UK."
The world economy's center of gravity is shifting and Britain should forge more links with China and similar economies, Matthews said.
"Instead, a lack of hub airport capacity is causing us to fall further behind the rest of Europe," Matthews said.
While Britain adds one new route to China in 2012, other European countries will have planes flying on seven additional routes to China's interior.
Other airlines in emerging economies have expressed a desire to add flights at Heathrow, but have been prevented from reaching that goal by the airport's lack of the departure and landing slots they need.
China Southern Airlines has more than 450 airplanes in its passenger and cargo operations, including US-based Boeing Co 777s, 747s, 757s, 737s and Airbus 380s, 330s, 321s and 320s.
According to company figures, the airline carried 80.7 million passengers in 2011, 5.5 percent more than a year earlier, making it the largest airline in Asia measured by passenger numbers.
-By Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)