China Southern’s top executive has outlined ambitions to connect Australian passengers with major hubs in Europe and North America as the booming carrier fields new competition for Qantas on its most lucrative routes.
During a visit to the Gold Coast this week, China Southern President Tan Wan’geng said the airline planned to soon begin operating four Airbus A380s on routes between its Guangzhou hub and major cities in Europe and the US. He said service between Guangzhou and London Heathrow was scheduled to begin next June.
That comes as China Southern rapidly expands its services to Australia. Guangzhou to Perth flights that launched last month brought the airline’s weekly Australian flights to 35, up from 10 in 2009, and the carrier has said it plans to increase Australian flights to 110 a week by 2015.
“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 as well as an ideal transfer centre between Australia and Europe,” Tan said, according to a press release.
A 300-strong delegation of airline and Chinese tourism officials arrived in the Gold Coast this week aboard an A330 charter flight for what was billed as a four-day familiarisation with the region. They were greeted by Australian tourism officials as well as Koala bears, Aboriginal dancers and local surf lifeguards, according to a statement.
China Southern has meanwhile launched a search for “typically Aussie” flight attendants as it expands its Australian operations.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has often warned of rising competition from Asian carriers that operate at much lower overhead, saying Qantas must find ways to cut costs and expand its own operations in Asia.