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Clearer skies for China Southern with new Boeing Dreamliner?

Posted: 06/12/2013 6:32 pm

The much delayed arrival of Boeing’s troubled Dreamliner at Baiyun Airport earlier this month has breathed some life into China Southern.

Make no mistake, this landing cements China Southern’s emergence as a serious player in the air. It’s the only global airline to operate both the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 – two of the world’s most advanced aircraft.

The flight path to Guangzhou was bumpy, though.

Over in Seattle, a crack team worked round-the-clock to fix the many problems which plagued the plane, which originally forced a worldwide grounding of the 787 fleet.

At last, and after many apologies from Boeing, one of China Southern’s top lieutenants was delighted to be handed control of his “baby.”

The 787 is tipped to fly to Paris after it serves domestic routes for the next three months. Auckland, London and Vancouver are next in the pipeline as are nine more Dreamliners.

Flying to major cities in Europe and the Americas is now affordable with the fuel-efficient 787, potentially bringing unsustainable losses from international operations to an end.

Here’s a line from my previous aviation update:

The combined popularity of Asia’s largest airline and the allure of Australia means that all services Down Under are turning a profit. It’s a rare bright spot, with most international routes deep in the red as a result of aggressive expansion.

Transiting should be a big part of a refreshed strategy as increasing number of passengers are using the Canton Route to fly between Europe and Australia. Aside from being cheaper, the 72-hour visa free policy gives another reason to fly China Southern.

Getting approval to launch the service overseas was hard to come by, however. Beijing’s iron fist has ruled over Guangzhou’s flying ambition for years.

With the regulator’s refusal to approve international flights, the A380′s entry into China has been as painful as childbirth. It ensured that China Southern couldn’t fly its flagship plane outside of Chinese airspace.

Since its inception, the A380 has lost CSA RMB400 million (US$62.5 million) up to March 2013, according to a report in National Business Daily. Given the losses generated by international operations, the red ink from the A380 hurts.

Only now, at long last, is it able to launch flights to Los Angeles and Sydney.

China Southern’s first quarter earnings saw an 82 per cent slump in net profit to RMB57 million (US$9.1 million).

Photos: Byeangel/Flickr and Noel Jones

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