Guangzhou : China South-ern Airlines is looking at a fleet of 150 widebody, long-haul aircraft by 2020 as the Guangzhou-based carrier seeks expansion opportunities.
Asia's largest airline has around 800 aircraft in its fleet-mostly narrowbodies that serve regional and domestic markets-which the carrier hopes to increase to 1,000 by 2020.
"Our fleet expansion aligns with the company's overall strategy, which is to focus on long-haul markets," China Southern vice chairman and president Tan Wan Geng said at a World Routes 2018 conference session. "Right now, only 12 per cent of the fleet is widebody aircraft. Once we start our hub at Beijing Daxing airport, it has potential go up to 15 per cent as we expand to 1,000 aircraft and establish new long-haul routes."
The airline currently operates a widebody fleet of around 90 Airbus A330, A380, Boeing 777-300 and 787-8/9 Dreamliner aircraft.
China Southern has a 40 per cent stake in the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, south of the capital, and will establish a new hub there from 2019. Tan said China Southern will not only be able to serve all of China but will also establish new long-haul markets from the new hub.
Tan said the immediate focus is to gain foothold on major routes to cities like Sydney (Australia), Paris (France) and New York (US) by slowly increasing frequencies. Afterward, the company will expand to newer long-haul markets in South America and Africa.
China Southern currently flies only to Mexico City via Vancouver, and is looking at destinations in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
"We will decide on a new South American destination within three years," Tan said, adding that new long-haul technology will also enable the airline to also look at nonstop Oceania and other cities in the Southern Hemisphere.