600+ Fleet Size In 33 Years: The Story Of China Southern Airlines

The global travel downturn may have clipped its wings, but China Southern Airlines remains one of the biggest…

600+ Fleet Size In 33 Years: The Story Of China Southern Airlines

The global travel downturn may have clipped its wings, but China Southern Airlines remains one of the biggest airlines in the world. While China Southern’s fleet size and extensive network impresses, the airline has managed to build itself up to its present size in just 33 years. Few airlines can match China Southern for that kind of growth.

China Southern Airlines has grown into a global brand in just over three decades. Photo: Getty Images

China Southern Airlines times its start nicely

China Southern Airlines had its genesis in the breakup of CAAC Airlines in the 1980s. The Civil Aviation Administration of China had operated a monopoly airline in China but decided to concentrate on regulating the local aviation market rather than running an airline.

CAAC divided China into seven regions, including the Guangzhou Regional Administration. Guangzhou-based China Southern began flying under its own brand and colors in early 1991. Elsewhere around China, now well-known airlines like China Eastern and Air China also got their start around this time.

In the early 1990s, China Southern Airlines wasn’t the juggernaut it has become today. The airline had a quarter of the planes it now has and flew mostly Chinese domestic routes.

But China Southern got its start at the right time. The airline began flying just as China started growing and adopted a more international focus. China’s growth gave China Southern considerable uplift over the next few decades.

Less than 18 months after first flying under the China Southern brand, the airline placed an US$800 million order for six Boeing 777-200s, with the first due for delivery in 1995.

A China Southern Boeing 787 departing Hew York’s JFK Airport. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

China Southern’s growth turbo-charged in the early 2000s

Initially, under the terms of the CAAC exiting the airline business, Air China got the lion’s share of international routes in and out of China. But within a few years, China Southern was looking beyond China and keen to establish itself as a premium Chinese carrier.

Helping China Southern’s international ambitions was the signing of an air services agreement between China and the US in 1995 that allowed nonstop flights between the two countries. Within two years, the airline was flying to Los Angeles as well as beginning flights to Amsterdam and Brisbane. It was the start of China Southern’s extensive global footprint.

These flights coincided with the arrival of those Boeing 777-200s. The factory-fresh North American planes helped build China Southern’s reputation. Also helping the airline’s cause was their well-publicized pursuit of western-style transparency, accountability, safety, maintenance, and service.

China Southern’s growth was turbocharged early this century when CAAC decided to consolidate the number of state-owned Chinese airlines. Along with Air China and China Eastern, China Southern Airlines was one of the big beneficiaries.

The airline quickly absorbed Zhengzhou-based Zhongyuan Airlines, taking on their small fleet as well. By 2004, China Southern had merged with Shenyang-based China Northern Airlines and Urumqi-based Xinjiang Airlines. As a result, China Southern’s fleet increased by one-third, and it was flying around 45 million passengers annually by 2005.

This period of state-directed consolidation set China Southern Airlines up to become the powerhouse airline it has become today.

China Southern Airlines took over China Northern Airlines (pictured) in the early 2000s. Photo: Yaoleile via Wikimedia Commons

A burst of aircraft orders earlier this century

Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics also helped China Southern along the way. The Chinese Government had a lot invested in China presenting well to the world. That included sprucing up their airlines.

In the run-up to the Olympics, the Chinese Government placed some big aircraft orders on behalf of its state-owned airlines. China Southern was the only Chinese airline to have Airbus A380s ordered for it. In 2005, five A380s were ordered, worth around US$7 billion.

The A380 was just one of many orders made in a ten-year period between 2005 and 2015. While not all the planes went to China Southern, a lot did. Ever since then, the airline’s fleet has steadily increased in size. As it got more planes, China Southern needed more uses for them. So they began to fly to more destinations more often.

In the middle of the last decade, Chinese airlines were notorious for capacity dumping. They’d fly to some long-haul destinations multiple times a day – far more than actual demand warranted. Owned by the deep-pocketed Chinese Government, this wasn’t a problem for the likes of China Southern and resulted from all those ordered aircraft coming into land.

China Southern A380
China Southern first flew the A380 in 2011. Photo: Getty Images

China Southern builds itself into a global airline brand

In addition to the A380s, Airbus A330s, Boeing Dreamliners, and a vast array of narrowbody aircraft were ordered by or for China Southern Airlines. The shiny new long-haul jets mostly didn’t arrive until well after the 2008 Olympics, but that really ended up being neither here nor there.

The first A380 landed in Guangzhou in 2011 and began flying between Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong before eventually finding its way onto international routes. Ten years down the track, we know the A380 never really worked for China Southern. Earlier this year, an China Southern executive admitted they’d be open to offloading or retiring the plane.

The first Boeing Dreamliner landed in 2013. The airline now has 27 of them. All up, present-day China Southern Airlines has 635 planes in its fleet. There are bigger airlines (American Airlines has nearly 900 planes), but China Southern’s 33-year journey has been extraordinary.

The bulk of China Southern’s fleet (and these days nearly all of its business) services China’s domestic market. North Asia (which includes China) is the second busiest airline market in the world. On raw flight numbers, OAG data names China Southern as the sixth busiest airline in the world. In October, China Southern is scheduled to operate 68,454 flights.

Guangzhou, China Southern’s home port, is slated at the world’s fourth busiest airport in the world this month, having 3,466,466 seats in and out of the airport – and a substantial percentage of those on China Southern aircraft.

While the global travel downturn has knocked China Southern Airlines around and severely curtailed its international operations, it seems the airline will bounce back bigger and stronger than ever over the next few years. For that reason alone, China Southern is one airline worth watching.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Flying Pencil: How Much Is A Boeing 757-200 Worth In 2021?

The Boeing 757-200 was far and away the most popular plane in the plane builder’s 757 series. Of…

Flying Pencil: How Much Is A Boeing 757-200 Worth In 2021?

The Boeing 757-200 was far and away the most popular plane in the plane builder’s 757 series. Of the 1,050 Boeing 757s manufactured, 913 were 757-200s. With production ending in 2004, the Boeing 757-200 numbers are thinning, but several airlines still use the type. With this in mind, exactly how much is a Boeing 757-200 worth in 2021?

United Airlines is now the second-largest operator of passenger configured Boeing 757-200s, with 51 still in the fleet. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

A broad variation in price for Boeing 757-200s in 2021

There remain 250 Boeing 757-200s still with passenger airlines, although around one-third are parked. The plane remains popular in the United States. Delta Air Lines still has 111 of the type, and United Airlines has 51. Combined, these two airlines operate 162 (or 65%) of the 757-200s still flying passengers.

Measured by fleet size, other Boeing 757-200 operators are Icelandair (15 jets), Azur Air (ten),  Jet2 (eight), Royal Flight (four), SCAT Airlines (four), TUI Airways (four), Turkmenistan Airlines (four), and AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines (three).

Keep in mind the 757-200 was produced between 1981 and 2004. List prices from that era might seem like a bargain these days. In 2002, not long before production ended, Boeing was asking around US$65 million for a fresh off the production line 757-200.

Fast forward two decades, and what’s a Boeing 757-200 worth today? Simple Flying uses data from ch-aviation.com, which calculates the value of most aircraft with the help of Collateral Verifications LLC.

According to ch-aviation.com, the going rate for a Boeing 757-200 is now US$3.58 million to $11.27 million. That’s a pretty broad price range, but a range of factors will determine a final asking price on the second-hand aircraft market. Those factors include the aircraft’s airframe hours and age, engine hours, installed equipment, records and airworthiness directives, damage history, exterior presentation, and interior presentation.

Delta is now the world’s biggest operator of Boeing 757-200 passenger planes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

A variety of factors will determine a plane’s resale value

It follows that an older Boeing 757-200 is worth less than a newer 757-200. It will invariably have flown more hours. Over the long term, any aircraft loses a certain amount from its value for every hour it flies over the fleet’s average.

Also important is who the aircraft flew with. A slightly older plane that’s been with an airline with a blue-chip reputation for maintenance could be more valuable than a 757-200 that’s been an airline with a less than stellar reputation.

Buyers are interested in how old the engine is, how many hours the engines have operated for, and how well the engines are maintained. Old workhorse airlines like the 757 can fly on and on if an airline takes care of the engines and airframe.

Any plane with up-to-date avionics and other contemporary technology will be worth more than a comparable plane lacking them. Dodgy air conditioning, aging deicing gear, and out-of-date cockpit technology can all detract from a plane’s resale value. Most good operators will have invested money in keeping older aircraft like the 757-200 up-to-date.

Buyers also like decent records, and a plane with a full set can command a price premium. Again, keeping the airworthiness certificate, engine and airframe logbooks, and flight manuals are simple procedural housekeeping for most airlines.

Among other things, complete records will reveal any incident and accident history. Like a car, an aircraft that has sustained damage is usually worth less than one that hasn’t.

TUI Boeing 757 Skiathos Getty
Tui Airways still flies four Boeing 757-200s. Photo: Getty Images

Freighters keep the market for 757-200s bubbling along

Finally, presentation is important. A shiny paint job and tidy cabin will always appeal more than a battered-looking plane with shabby ripped seats. The presentation may not impact on the airworthiness of the aircraft, but it certainly creates or negates a perception of value.

While the number of Boeing 757-200s flying passengers is declining, there are still ample opportunities to fly one. And the plane has a way to fly yet. As passenger airlines retire 757-200s, there is an active market among freight airlines for the type.

Just like the 757-200 ticked so many boxes for passenger airlines over the past four decades, the plane is proving a big hit among freight carriers. The demand from them is helping put a floor under the resale value of the Boeing 757-200.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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