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China Southern Airbus A380 set to fly in October

China Southern becomes first Chinese airline to operate Superjumbo routes

Sep 28, 2011

China Southern (CZ) was rated “World's most improved airline” by Skytrax in June this year, and next month the fast-growing company will fly China’s first double-decker Airbus A380 -- currently the largest civilian aircraft in the world.

The Guangzhou-based airline announced yesterday that the first of five Superjumbos ordered back in 2005 is set to be delivered on October 15.

China Southern will operate a series of “A380 experience flights” from October 17-26 between Beijing and Guangzhou, and from October 27-29 between Beijing and Shanghai.

This will make China Southern the seventh carrier in the world to operate Superjumbo routes, after Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Emirates, Korean Air and Lufthansa.

While Emirates led the world's carriers by launching the first regular A380 service in China last April -- between Shanghai and Dubai -- China Southern will be the first domestic carrier to operate the service.

China Southern has said it plans to fly A380s on international routes in the near future.

According to ATW magazine, the carrier is still waiting for approval from Civil Aviation Administration of China, and the routes are believed to be either between Beijing and New York or Beijing and Paris -- the two most profitable routes of CZ’s competitor Air China.

Raising overseas profile

The country’s first A380 contains 506 seats, comprising eight luxurious first-class seats, 70 business-class seats and 428 economy seats.

"Flying A380s will put us in a completely different league," said Yang Bo, head of China Southern’s planning department.

"We hope to use the planes to build a good brand image and to raise our profile overseas."

Bloomberg reported that China Southern flew a total of 3.9 million passengers on international routes in the first eight months of the year, 16 percent more than a year earlier.

It has also added routes to Vancouver, Auckland and Amsterdam this year as the carrier tries to develop Guangzhou Baiyun Airport into a global hub to rival Hong Kong.

Yang noted that the double-deckers will help the company to realize its drive of doubling the percentage of capacity deployed on overseas routes to 35 percent by 2015.

"China Southern's aggressive expansion will definitely hit Cathay Pacific and other Australian routes operators," Kelvin Lau, a Hong Kong-based Daiwa Securities Group analyst, told Bloomberg.

"Still, a new player may grow the overall market," Lau added.

China Southern elbowed out Japan Airlines in 2010 and remains Asia’s largest carrier by passenger numbers. The state-owned airline is expecting delivery of its second A380 by the end of the year.

The airline is also on way to increase its total fleet from 424 (as of June, 2011) to 645 aircraft by the end of 2015. Some other aircraft China Southern has ordered are Airbus A330s, A320s, and 10 Boeing 787s.

China Southern becomes  first Chinese airline to operate Superjumbo routes
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Source: CNN

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