China Southern flies to London with new 787
Updated: 2013-09-11 05:15
By Cecily Liu (chinadaily.com.cn)
London became the first destination China Southern Airlines chose to operate with its new Boeing 787 aircrafts, signifying the UK market's importance for China Southern.
Operated non-stop between London Heathrow Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, the new 787 aircraft is more comfortable and 20 percent more fuel efficient than the Airbus A330 previously used by China Southern on this route.
China Southern's Boeing Dreamliner arrives at London Heathrow Airport from Guangzhou on Sept 10, 2013 on its maiden flight. [Xie Songxin/China Daily]
"We value this route highly. Not only is it important for our Guangzhou customers, it is also used frequently by customers travelling to Oceania countries with connecting flights in Guangzhou," says Hu Wei, captain of the 787 at China Southern.
Hu says one unique feature of the new aircraft is the shade on windows, which can be adjusted by the passengers between light, shade and dark, to suit their personal needs. The new aircrafts can also adjust moisture level more easily, which gives passengers more comfort.
"In addition, as the aircraft is new, it uses a lot of sustainable material, which is a concept we highly support," Hu says.
"The aircraft is easy to drive and is very safe. It also has a whole set of good hardware, for example, very good quality for the sound devices," he says.
He says China Southern ordered 10 787 aircrafts from Boeing. The 787 aircrafts have already had a brief trial on China Southern's domestic routes to help pilots familiarize with them, before being designated for international flights.
Hu says about 60 percent of the passengers travelling on the London-Guangzhou route then connect on to other destinations, therefore it is China Southern's ambition to make Guangzhou a hub to serve nearby Asian locations and Oceania locations.
"As it is necessary for passengers from London to Oceania destinations to transit somewhere, we must do our best to offer a good flight to Guangzhou, so they choose to transit in Guangzhou and not other places, like Dubai for example," Hu says.
He says the timing also coincides with Guangzhou been allowed by the Chinese government to receive 72 hour visa free visitors last month, a special status previous only granted to Shanghai and Beijing.
Under the new regulation, tourists travelling on to other destinations can stay in Guangzhou for up to 72 hours on transit, which makes Guangzhou even more attractive as a transit destination.
China Southern launched its inaugural London-Guangzhou flight in June 2012, at the time operating three flights a week. It was timed to coincide with the London Olympics when a large number of Chinese tourists visited the British capital.
This has since increased to the current five flights a week, operating everyday except for Mondays and Wednesdays. During peak seasons this will be increased to daily flights.
The 787 aircraft fits 228 passengers, compared to 218 passengers on the A330 aircraft.
The flights take about 12 hours each way. Hu says as the new aircraft can fly about 10-20 minutes faster, it would be easier than the A330 in ensuring that aircrafts arrive on time.
China Southern's other European destinations include Amsterdam and Paris. The next international route China Southern plans to operate using the 787 aircraft is between Guangzhou and Auckland.