China Southern Airlines has finalised an order for 12 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, adding to the airline’s ten existing B787-8s. The 787-9, with a fuselage stretched six metres more than the 787-8 and 20 per cent more fuel efficiency, will expand the carrier’s long-haul capabilities.

Speaking about the order, Tan Wangeng, CEO of the Chinese carrier, said: “The 787 Dreamliners have helped us to achieve initial success in implementing our internationalisation strategy in the past few years and enabled us to make our operation and services more appealing to passengers. The additional new 787-9s will further increase our capacity and services for our long-haul routes.”

China Southern was the launch customer of the 787 for China, and the aircraft have enabled the airline to launch six non-stop global routes, connecting Guangzhou to London, Rome, Vancouver, Perth, Auckland and Christchurch.

Along with its improved efficiency, the 787-9 has a number of in-cabin upgrades over the 787-8, including larger windows and stow bins, LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and an overall more smooth ride.

The 12 new 787-9s will build upon the carrier’s current fleet of 700 aircraft – reportedly the largest fleet of any Chinese airline – and China Southern anticipates it will expand this number to 1,000 aircraft by 2020 and passenger traffic surpassing 160 million annually.