China Southern Airlines is to become the fourth Airbus A380 customer to deploy the Super Jumbo on its routes to Australia’s largest facility, Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport. The Asian carrier has confirmed it will introduce the aircraft on one of its flights from its Baiyun International Airport hub in Guanghzhou in the fourth quarter. The Australian gateway is currently the sixth largest A380 hub in the world and already has scheduled flights with the type from Emirates Airline, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.
According to the Chinese carrier the A380 will replace a smaller A330 on one of its two daily flights between Guangzhou and Sydney from the start of the Northern Hemisphere winter schedule on October 27, 2013. “China Southern Airlines' decision to upgauge one of its A330 daily services to an A380 to Sydney later this year confirms that Sydney Airport is Australia’s number one gateway to China, as well as being one of the world’s top A380 airports,” said Kerrie Mather, Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Airport.”
“This announcement comes just weeks after Emirates confirmed that it will be flying an additional A380 here from June, with China Southern’s additional A380 service to add 162,060 seats to the route annually and contribute $118 million in visitor expenditure to the NSW economy,” she added,
Alongside the A380 debut, China Southern has confirmed its other daily Guangzhou - Sydney service would feature its new A330 product with lie-flat business class beds and seat-back entertainment on every seat. Stopovers in Guangzhou will also be even easier, with Australians to be able to stay up to 72 hours without a visa from mid-2013 following a relaxation of immigration rules.
“This will enhance China Southern’s appeal to the Australian market, having already shown phenomenal growth over the last three years with its Guangzhou service increasing to daily in early 2010 and then twice daily later that year,” said Mather. “With growing affluence and a rising middle class, China is also one of our most important markets for boosting inbound tourism and we are working in close partnership with Destination NSW and Tourism Australia to attract more carriers and more services to Sydney, with 12 per cent compound growth in Chinese passengers every year for the past four years.”
The capacity upgrade will increase Sydney’s share of mainland capacity to 56.5 per cent. Visitors from China are now Sydney’s second largest passenger group behind New Zealanders and are expected to become the number one passenger group over the next decade.
The confirmation of the A380 introduction on the route to Sydney follows the signing of a strategic cooperation between China Southern and Australia’s Tasman neighbour New Zealand, reaffirming the airline’s flight operations and marketing in another growing market for Chinese visitors. This accord was formally signed during the visit of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to Guangzhou following the 12th Boao Asia Forum held in Hainan, China. It took place on the one year anniversary of China Southern’s inauguration of flights from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Auckland, the first Chinese carrier to fly to New Zealand.
China is the second largest trade partner, import and export market and tourism country to New Zealand, while New Zealand is the largest powder milk provider to China and the preferred destination for Chinese students for studying abroad. There are approximately 5,000 Chinese students seeking their studies in New Zealand annually and New Zealand exports of milk power, dairy products, wool, wood, fruits and wine to China continues to grow. According to official data, Chinese students studying in New Zealand is increasing 20 per cent every year with some 25,000 Chinese students registered in New Zealand schools and universities.
In 2012, China Southern Airlines carried 122,000 passengers and in the combined months of January and February 2013, the carrier carried 22,000 passengers, an average load factor of 87 per cent. Following the successful introduction of the link to Auckland, China Southern is now also considering expanding its activities in New Zealand including potentially adding flights to Christchurch and Wellington.
The existing Guangzhou – Auckland route will also benefit from changes to immigration policy and the extension of multi-entry visitor visas from China from 12 months up to 24 months from May 1, 2013 will certainly encourage further trade between China and New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand will also set up a Chinese language website to engage with Chinese visitors. "The extended visa makes it easier for Chinese visitors to come to New Zealand because if they return within two years they don't have to repeat the visa application process," said Prime Minister John Key.
China is New Zealand’s fastest growing tourist market and these changes will help to fuel that growth. In 2012, more than 200,000 Chinese travellers visited New Zealand, up 38 per cent on 2011 and spent about NZ$651 million ($554.65 million) and according to trade data.
The visa extension was recommended by China Market Review, a report recently commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) into raising tourism from China, New Zealand’s second largest source of visitors. "At present, most Chinese visitors add a few days in New Zealand to their Australian holiday," said Martin Snedden, Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Tourism Industry Association. "We want to encourage these travellers to treat New Zealand as a single destination and stay longer to explore the country more extensively."
Part of China Southern’s success in Australasia has been its hub offering and the opportunity for passengers to connect at Baiyun International Airport to destinations across Europe. Alongside Sydney and Auckland, China Southern also serves Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, all in Australia and the ‘Canton Route’ offering provides one-stop connections to Amsterdam, London and Paris. In 2012 more than two million passengers transferred between flights at Baiyun, up more than 800,000 on the figure in 2011. International connections accounted for a 48.3 per cent share of this demand. According to China Southern, sixth freedom passengers increased nearly 1.5 times from 147,900 in 2011 to 346,000 last year, an increase of more than 20 fold compared with 2009. Australia and New Zealand passengers reached more than 760,000 among which transit passengers reached 449,000, a 30 per cent increase compared with year 2012.