The first Airbus A319neo aircraft intended for China Southern Airlines has been spotted at the European planemaker’s Hamburg factory.
The aircraft, test registration D-AVWG msn 10239, is reportedly only the fourth A319neo to have been built, and the first to go to China Southern.
China Southern has planned to expand its fleet of 857 aircraft, with particular emphasis on narrow-body jets.
Just last month, the carrier books its order for two A319neos, and nine A321neos.
The 11 new planes are expected to add US$290 million in annual revenue, China Southern said.
Based off photos obtained on Planespotters.net, D-AVWG was likely a whitetail, which is why the aircraft looks near-ready to be delivered just one month after being ordered.
The expansion by China Southern, which flies to 243 destinations in mainland China and around the world, follows the solid recovery during the “golden week” of the country’s National Day in October, the longest public holiday since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in January.
Even though the aggressive ‘fly-at-will’ promotion packages have boosted airlines’ revenue, many continue to only service international routes – the most profitable for airlines – at about 10 per cent of their 2019 capacity, which compels them to tap the capital markets for capital.
China Southern, the sole operator among Chinese carriers of the A380 superjumbo by Airbus, said it’s aiming to grow into “a carrier with international scale and network”, to leverage on the potential of an aviation market where the capacity to carry passengers may grow to 1.5 billion by 2036, and the growth prospect of its home base the Greater Bay Area.
The use of the Airbus single-aisle aircraft would make up for the capacity of the 24 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body jets grounded in China Southern’s fleet.
The carrier was one of the first to ground the aircraft last year, following two back-to-back crashes within five months involving the latest version of what Boeing called the “most popular jet aircraft of all time”.