China Southern’s seasonal Airbus A380 services to Sydney from the carrier’s Guanhzhou hub return on Friday December 5.
The airline will deploy the double decker superjumbo to the NSW capital during the peak school holiday period for a second year, having used the aircraft over the Australian summer last year.
The A380s, configured with 506 seats in an eight first, 70 business and 428 economy layout, will operate China Southern’s morning departure from Sydney, CZ326, with the Airbus A330-300 used on the airline’s evening flight, CZ302.
The use of the A380 between December 5 2014 and February 28 2015, as well as the recent upguage from A330-200 to A330-300 aircraft, added up to 50 per cent more seats on the route where the Skyteam alliance member is the sole operator, China Southern said.
China Southern regional general manager for Australia and New Zealand Henry He said China Southern offered more flights to mainland China than any other airline.
“The return of the A380 to Sydney will provide us with even greater capacity and highlights the growth levels China Southern has achieved in this region,” He said in a statement on Thursday.
China Southern flies from Guangzhou to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from its Guangzhou hub and has expanded rapidly in recent years.
The pace of China Southern’s growth in the Australian market was one factor that prompted China Eastern and Qantas to propose a joint-venture for Australia-China routes, according to documents filed with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In their joint application to the ACCC, the carriers noted Qantas’s share of total passengers in the Australia-China market had declined to 15 per cent in April 2014, compared with 21 per cent four years earlier. The figures included Jetstar and Jetstar Asia.
By contrast, China Southern doubled its market share to 22 per cent, from 11 per cent, over the same period.
“Without the proposed conduct, Qantas is likely to become increasingly marginalised in respect of the Australia-China market,” the two carriers’ submission said.
“Alone, Qantas will not be able to keep pace with the capacity growth being driven by carriers such as China Southern.
“Without access to sufficient capital to profitably expand its own operations, Qantas needs to collaborate with a local partner in order to leverage network benefits and distribution strength.”
CAPA – Centre for Aviation said in a research note dated November 26 China Eastern was likely to benefit most should the joint-venture receive the green light from regulators.
“At the top level, a stronger China Eastern can balance China Southern,” CAPA said.
“At more nuanced levels, China Eastern has envied the corporate traffic and premium yields Qantas fetches.”
The pair hoped to begin their joint-venture partnership from June 2015.