China Southern Airlines will be the first carrier to operate
scheduled Boeing 787 Dreamliner services to New Zealand from
Monday as part of ambitious plans to expand its international
The airline will fly daily services using the plane - made
largely of carbon fibre - from Guangzhou to Auckland
year-round and step this up to 10 flights a week over the
peak summer period from December 4 to March 1.
The planes will have 228 seats - 11 more than Airbus A330s
now used on the route - and 20 per cent more cargo capacity.
China Southern's general manager for New Zealand Mike Ma said
there would be 88 more flights over summer.
He said bookings for the Dreamliner flights had been strong,
particularly after the airline put special fares on the
market in August. Because it is the first of the new planes
to fly to Auckland, the airline's Auckland-based engineer and
ground handling contractor needed new certification from
China Southern started running scheduled domestic services
with its Dreamliner in June before launching services to
London from its hub in Guangzhou in the south of the country.
It now has five of the planes and is scheduled to take
delivery of another two by the end of the month, and will get
10 in total.
While deliveries of the plane were delayed by more than three
years and the Dreamliner has been hit by a series of problems
since its launch into airline fleets in 2011, Ma said his
airline had not encountered any glitches.
The Auckland-Guangzhou flights link with services to London,
the airline's Canton route which it launched last year. On
the same day as the new Dreamliner services to New Zealand,
China Southern is expanding its Australian operation,
starting double decker Airbus A380 services to Sydney.
"It's because New Zealand and Australia are key markets. Our
strategy is to build the Canton route from New Zealand and
Australia to Europe and all over the world via our Guangzhou
hub," Ma said.
"Our company's strategy is to get a higher ratio of flights
to international markets."
New Zealanders are now allowed to transit in Guangzhou for up
to 72 hours without a visa, up from the maximum of 24 hours
China Southern is the world's third largest airline measured
by passengers carried and Asia's largest airline in both
fleet size and passengers. It now flies to about 40
Its domestic network is facing pressure from high speed
trains and is one reason the airline is expanding overseas
although that should not be over-emphasised, Ma said.
China Southern's Dreamliner is the first to have a first
class cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Its 24 business class seats are in 2-2-2 configuration; and
200 economy class seats in 3-3-3 configuration.
- Grant Bradley of the New Zealand Herald