Last week, the online edition of China Daily reported that China Southern (CZ) would jointly operate a Beijing-Paris service with Chinese flag carrier Air China (CA) with its A380s from October onwards.
This week, Chinese economic news website Hexun confirms that the two airlines would codeshare the daily route that is currently served by CA with a B777.
Since October 2011, CZ has received three A380s, with another two due to be delivered later this year and in 2013 respectively. So far, the carrier has only used these superjumbos on short routes such as Beijing-Shanghai, Guangzhou-Beijing and Beijing-Hong Kong (see story here), and it has been proven uneconomical.
While it will start flying the A380 on its Guangzhou-Los Angeles route next month (see story here), it still needs to find other international routes on which it can deploy its other superjumbos.
According to Hexun, there is still more demand to be met between Beijing and Paris, and there are currently three daily flights between the two capitals – one by Air China and two by Air France.
But slots at Beijing Capital International Airport are tight and they are dominated by Air China. The codeshare agreement serves to be a mutually beneficial arrangement, where CA gets to increase capacity on the route while CZ can put its A380s in better use.
Many details remain unclear, however. CZ chief financial officer Xu Jiebo has been quoted by China Daily saying that the Paris route will require two A380s, although that seems to make little sense as information available thus far indicates there will only be one CA/CZ codeshare flight to the French capital.
Nicholas Olczak and Reggie Ho