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China Southern will earmark its new Boeing 787s and long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets for adding new routes into Europe and the USA as the airline moves to broaden the worldwide network reaching out from its hub in Guangzhou.
The airline recently revealed it will launch a direct New York service in the second half of next year, following the mid-2014 delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER.
China Southern also expects to take delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER in the middle of next year, with the long-range jet being used to launch a Guangzhou-New York service.
But there’s more to come, and both the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 777-300ER will play a key role in China Southern’s plans.
“China Southern is stepping up our international efforts, and we are going to launch more new routes into Europe” says Chen Gang, Executive Vice President of China Southern Airlines.
“China Southern has purchased 10 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, and those will be put into routes flying into Europe and the US” Chen told Australian Business Traveller.
China Southern isn’t hitching its wagon purely to Boeing, however, with airline CEO Tan Wangeng indicating he is open to the purchase of more Airbus A380s and potentially even the Airbus A350.
“We are interested in new aircraft types” Tan told Australian Business Traveller during a press briefing in Guangzhou over the weekend.
“We currently have 540 aircraft in our fleet, with an annual growth rate of 10 percent, so we have 50 additional aircraft joining our fleet every year” Tan said.
Carving up the Canton Route
China Southern may need more flights featuring those larger aircraft in order to accommodate its continued push into the Australian market.
In 2009 the airline had only seven flights per week from Australia, but this tally now stands at 48 flights per week.
This represents a total of 12,346 seats per week from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth into Guangzhou, while the Guangzhou-London route is served by a single daily Boeing 787 flight offering just 1,596 seats each week.
China Southern is also carrying more Australians than ever before, with the passenger make-up on flights between Australia and Guangzhou shifting from 80% Chinese and 20% Australian some two years ago to a current 60/40 split.
China Southern’s Chen told Australian Business Traveller that a bottleneck in capacity was not an issue because Guangzhou-London flights are just part of the airline’s Canton Route strategy.
“Our Canton Route also covers Paris and Amsterdam” he said, adding that more European destinations would follow.
“So we have several options for passengers travelling from Australia via our Guangzhou hub into Europe.”
Australian Business Traveller visited Guangzhou and travelled on China Southern's inaugural A380 service to Sydney as a guest of China Southern.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT