Hainan Airlines announced plans to launch Hangzhou–Shenzhen–Sydney service in Jan-2011 five weeks later than initially intended - see Route Changes Table for more information (Routes Online, 25-Nov-2010). Hainan Airlines will become the fourth Chinese carrier to operate China-Australia services.
Hainan Airlines to launch service to Sydney in Jan-2011
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China Southern and Hainan Airlines evaluate Virgin Australia stake to grow tourism potential
Chinese visitors are reshaping tourism flows and aviation opportunities in many markets. This has been readily apparent in Australia, where China Southern in the space of a few years has become a household name, and Chinese tourists are the second largest visitor source. The next manifestation could be a Chinese airline purchasing the stake in Virgin Australia that Air New Zealand is looking to divest itself of. China Southern and Hainan Airlines are evaluating the opportunity, according to the Australian Financial Review.
China Southern would benefit from a stronger local partner after its previous partner Qantas formed a JV with the rival China Eastern. With every Chinese visitor taking two to three domestic Australian flights, an equity stake could allow the Chinese airline to capture back revenue streams. China Southern could also invest as a defensive move. Hainan serves Australia seasonally and its use of Virgin could be more radical, with an outcome of Virgin flying to mainland China and Hong Kong, accessing routes that Hainan's HNA Group (including Hong Kong Airlines) is unable to serve. Hainan already has an airline investment portfolio but Virgin would be its most significant. For China Southern, a Virgin stake could start state-owned Chinese airlines buying foreign airlines as they seek to be at the centre of most things in the world; including, one day, global consolidation.
Where the A380 flies: Japan and intra-Asia routes decline while Australia & Middle East grow
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.