18 October 2011 | China Southern on 14 October became the first Chinese airline to receive the A380, when Airbus handed over the first of five superjumbo ordered by the Chinese carrier. The double-decker planes will spearhead the state-controlled company’s drive to more than double the percentage of capacity deployed on overseas routes to 35 percent by 2015, said Yang Bo, the head of its planning department. “Flying A380s will put us in a completely different league. We hope to use the planes to build a good brand image and to raise our profile overseas.”
China Southern has already boosted international capacity with 33 percent this year as it aims to develop Guangzhou airport in Guangdong province – China’s biggest region by economic output – into a global hub rivaling Hong Kong, which is located less than 200 kilometers (125 miles) away. China Southern plans to boost its total fleet to 645 aircraft by 2015 from 425 today. Says Si Xianmin, Chairman of China Southern, “The economics offered by the A380 will undoubtedly improve our competitiveness on international routes and it is the perfect asset to help China Southern Airlines achieve its goal of becoming a leading global carrier.”
Qantas is already noticing the increased competition from China Southern, as the Chinese airline has significantly grown its Australia services as part of its intercontinental push. Similar drives in Europe and North America will follow, partly to offset competition from high-speed trains on domestic routes in China. China Southern Airlines’ focus on domestic flights made it Asia’s largest carrier by passengers. As Qantas CEO Alan Joyce tells Bloomberg, “The Chinese carriers are in an amazing position. They have got the scale that will make them huge and I think they will be a big challenge for the Middle Eastern carriers as well as the Asian carriers.”
‘Pearl of the Skies’
China Southern has selected a three-cabin configuration for its new A380 flagship, which it has dubbed ‘Pearl of the Skies’. The airline’s superjumbo has 506 seats in total: Eight ‘Platinum’ suites in First Class, 70 lie-flat Business Class seats and 428 seats in Economy. The eight First Class suites are located at the front of the lower deck in a 1-2-1 layout and look like the ‘closed’ version of the Acumen/Countour First Class seat, an ‘open’ version of which is also installed on Korean Air’s A380’s. Read full article »
5 August 2011 | The prospect of an airline from Mainland China joining the top 10 ranks of the Skytrax world’s best airlines list may not sound that far off, if one takes into account that the ranking is dominated by Asian carriers, including ‘Chinese’ carriers such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Airlines from China still have some way to go to improve their international competitiveness, but two of China’s largest airlines, China Southern and Air China, have recently embarked on major upgrade programs. Meanwhile, Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth largest airline group, recently has been awarded a 5-star status by Skytrax (although this status can be debated).
Air China is China’s flag carrier and third largest airline, as well as the world’s most profitable and largest carrier by market value. The airline’s major hubs are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu and as of December 2010 the Star Alliance-member operated flights to 47 international and 91 domestic cities with a fleet of 393 aircraft. Compared with China’s other major carriers, China Southern and China Eastern, Air China leads in terms of international destinations, which make up 50 percent of its routes, followed by China Eastern (30%) and China Southern Airlines (25%). Air China holds interests in Cathay Pacific (29.99%), Air Macau (80.9%), Shenzhen Airlines (51%) and Shandong Airlines.
Cabin revitalisation programme
In mid-July, Air China took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER, which features the carrier’s new premium products, including 180-degree flat bed seats in business (2:2:2 configuration) and first class (1:2:1 configuration) and a self-service bar, located between First and Business. The seats in Air China’s ‘Forbidden Pavilion’ First Class are Contour’s ‘Venus’ seating product with sliding privacy screens for centre seats and an adjustable ottoman that provides a seat for a guest as well as extra stowage. More images of the cabin can be found here).
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