China Southern Airlines, the largest carrier in The People's Republic of China, has launched passenger operations with its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The SkyTeam alliance member inaugurated services with the type on the domestic route between its Baiyun International Airport hub in Guangzhou and Beijing’s Capital International Airport on June 7, 2013, one day later than originally planned due to operational reasons. This followed just days after the official delivery of the aircraft.
The aircraft is the first of ten 787s due to be introduced into the China Southern fleet between now and the end of 2014. The airline is the first Chinese operator for the aircraft, a type that will help China’s carriers to more efficiently serve markets in Australasia and into Europe due to its extensive range allowing them to right-size capacity in key corporate markets.
China Southern is one of three Chinese carriers to currently hold commitments for the 787 on the Boeing orderbook, but it was not the first to place an order from the country. Air China was the first to be allocated 787 orders from the state aviation enterprise’s order with a deal for 15 787-9s in August 2005, but this was quickly followed by Hainan Airlines being allocated eight 787-8 in November 2005 and China Southern ten 787-8s in December 2005. Hainan Airlines was subsequently allocated two additional 787-8s in January 2007.
According to Tan Wangeng, Party Secretary and General Manager of China Southern Air Holding Company the arrival of 787 Dreamliner was “sensational” and “would propel China Southern’s strategic transformation in addition to boosting the sound development of the Chinese civil aviation industry”. The airline is currently the only company in the world to operate both of the latest new aircraft families from Airbus and Boeing – the A380 and 787.
China Southern has configured its new generation airliner in a three class arrangement with seating for four passengers in First Class, 24 in Business Class and 200 in Economy Class. After initially using the aircraft on the domestic route to the capital, China Southern plans to progressively introduce the type on some of its key long-haul routes as additional examples arrive including flights between Guangzhou and Auckland, London, Paris and Vancouver. “These marvelous new aircraft will make a significant contribution to Guangzhou’s hub construction in addition to being a vital part of our 'Canton Route' services”, said Mr Tan.