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Australia ‘important’ for China Southern’s growth: CEO

China Southern's Airbus A380

China Southern Airlines was expanding its services so quickly into Australia because it saw its success on the route as being the key to its transition to a truly network-oriented airline, says President and Chief Operating Officer of China Southern Airlines Mr Tan Wan’geng.

Speaking to about 300 officials and media at an official welcome for a special China Southern A330 charter flight into the Gold Coast today (Dec 7), Tan said China Southern expected to carry 80 million travellers in 2011, mostly on its extensive domestic routes.

However China Southern now had its aircraft on more than 500 routes around the world and was implementing an expansion program that would see services start into London Heathrow next June and capacity increased to Paris, Amsterdam and Vancouver from its base in Guangzhou in Southern China.

“We will make greater efforts at the other end of these kangaroo routes to make our Guangzhou hub an important gateway hub into China and even into the Asia-Pacific region as well as an ideal transfer centre between Australia and Europe,” he said.

Tan said China Southern expected to begin operating four Airbus A380s on long-haul international routes to major gateway hubs in Europe and the US, headlining a fleet of 430 aircraft flying into 150 domestic cities in China and more than 50 international destinations on four continents.

China Southern’s membership of the SkyTeam Aviation Alliance also meant its passengers could fly into 926 destinations in 173 countries on more than 14,500 daily flights.

Tan said Australia was a focal point for the airline’s global operations because of the historic links Australia had with southern China and the huge amount of trade and tourism interest that had developed between the two nations.

“China Southern’s Australia Strategy is important for our integration into the international marketplace and the development of our worldwide brand,” he said.

Tan said China Southern’s Australian growth had been impressive, rising quickly from 10 services a week into three destinations in 2009 to 35 weekly flights into four destinations with the start of Beijing-Guangzhou-Perth flights last month.

“From January to November this year, China Southern Airlines carried some 498,000 passengers from mainland China to Australia and New Zealand, a year-on-year increase of 114.1 per cent and almost 30 per cent of the total traffic between the two markets,” he said.

“China Southern has become the largest air carrier from mainland China to the region.

“China Southern Airlines has received generous coordination and support from the Australian government, tourism bureau, airports and all sectors of the society as we further introduce ourselves to the Australian business and leisure communities.

“China Southern’s commitment to Australia remains very strong, as demonstrated by the fact that we are the airline sponsor for next month’s Sydney Festival,” Tan said.

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