China Southern Airlines stated (13-Nov-2012) its first A380 international operation, Guangzhou-Los Angeles service launched on 12-Oct-2012, has been performing ahead of expectations during the first month with the average twin-cabin load factor maintained at above 60%. The carrier, which operates four A380s, is scheduled to take delivery and operate its fifth A380 in early 2013. China Southern also stated it is scheduled to take delivery of the first of 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in Feb-2014. [more – original PR – Chinese]
China Southern Airlines: A380 international operations performing ahead of expectations
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Even the most sceptical investors would be forgiving for contemplating airline ownership during the travel rush. The question, and lurking problem, is what happens the rest of the year.
China's concentrated and en masse travel periods present a challenge for sustainability. Airlines local and foreign are often reduced to hoping that routes will be annually profitable based on a few weeks of travel during Chinese New Year, the brief summer peak, and the autumn holidays. With load factors consistently high, yields are weakened, either on point-to-point traffic or as Chinese airlines aggressively discount connecting/transfer traffic.
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China and France expand flights for airlines, giving China aeropolitical negotiating leverage
China and France have agreed to a significant expansion of flights between their countries. Chinese airlines, which have no more than 50 weekly flights to France, will be permitted to grow to 126 weekly flights within a few years. This tranche of rights will likely double the number of Chinese airlines in France (currently four) and take Chinese airlines to serving French cities other than Paris.
Air France will likely grow partnerships with SkyTeam's China members, although Air France will need to make concessions on its existing China JVs. It is unclear whether Air France will revisit considerations of investing in China Southern.
Chinese airlines will become France's second largest source of foreign long haul flights, and in the long term China could surpass the US. For China, France could become its third largest long haul market after the US and Australia. France is China's third major aeropolitical expansion in recent months, after the UK and Australia. This could give China leverage to press the US and Canada to expand traffic rights, although these markets are far more convoluted.