It was a day of firsts. China Southern took delivery of its first Airbus A380 on October 14 making it the first Chinese carrier to do so.
With China poised to become the largest inbound and outbound travel market in the world, the celebratory ceremony in Toulouse, which consisted of Chinese shadow puppet shows and elaborate dances, was not only to hand over the aircraft but also to cement China’s position in the global aviation market.
President of China Southern, Si Xianmin, said: “We are proud to become the first A380 operator in China and we have the utmost confidence in the successful operation of the A380.”
According to Thomas Enders, chief executive of Airbus, while the global aviation market is predicted to grow by 5 per cent in the near future, Asia’s, and particularly China’s, will grow much faster than that. “China will eventually fly, operate and need over 200 A380s by the year 2030,” he said.
This delivery is one of the five A380 aircraft that China Southern has on order, configured with 506 seats: eight first class suites, 70 lie-flat business class seats and 428 economy seats. However, compared to other A380 operators (see story here), China Southern does not seem to have any stand-out features.
The aircraft will first be deployed on domestic routes, flying between Guangzhou and Beijing until October 26. From October 27 until October 29, the aircraft will be placed on the Beijing-Shanghai route (see story here). It will eventually be deployed on international routes although it is still unclear when that will happen and on which route. When the aircraft operates between Beijing and Shanghai it will hopefully ease intense congestion on this highly popular route, since the A380 adds more capacity per flight.
For more information, visit www.flychinasouthern.com. For a comparison between the Airbus A380 aircraft already in operation, view our previous coverage here, and stay tuned for an in-depth analysis of the Big Bird in the November issue of Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.