China Southern Group Unveils Massive Fleet Additions, Speaks Out Against US Protectionism

Mar 27, 2018

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The China aviation market is growing rapidly. Boeing recently estimated that Chinese airlines are going to purchase more than $1 trillion in aircraft in the next 20 years. That equates to a mind-blowing 6,810 new aircraft, or more than 340 new aircraft per year.

And one airline group is certainly doing its part to make these numbers a reality. As unveiled in corporate reporting Monday, China Southern Group is expected to take delivery of 309 aircraft by the end of 2020. That consists of:

Deliveries 2018 2019 2020 Total
Boeing 737-800 61 45 51 157
Airbus A320 family 39 42 24 105
Boeing 787-9 10 7 5 22
Airbus A330-300 5 5
Airbus A350-900 6 6 12
Boeing 777-300ER 5 3 8
Total 115 105 89 309

That’s a huge number, and especially impressive considering China Southern Group’s fleet ended 2017 with 754 aircraft. Members in the group consist of China Southern Airlines and its affiliate airlines: Chengdu Airlines, China Postal Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, Hebei Airlines, Jiangxi Air, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

And unlike some airlines, which are aggressively ordering new aircraft to retire older planes, China Southern’s fleet is already pretty modern. The average age of all aircraft tracked by AirFleets.net is just 7.1 years.

As a point of comparison, American Airlines has the youngest fleet of the US majors and it’s average fleet age is 10.3 years. Alaska is at 7.7 years and Delta is one of the oldest in the US at 16.8 years. And, China Southern’s average age is only going to drop as these 309 aircraft are added to the fleet.

And for reference of the scale of 309 new aircraft, British Airways has only 268 aircraft in its entire global operations — albeit with a higher average capacity than the single-aisle aircraft China Southern has on order.

Record Profits, Strong Words

This massive fleet addition was unveiled in earnings report on Monday in which the airline reported a 17% increase in profits. The airline group set a new record in 2017 with RMB 5.91 billion (US$942 million) in profit.

But, the airline is afraid that US tariffs and protectionism policies might endanger that. In the earnings announcement Monday morning, China Southern Group’s Chairman Wang Changshun made his stance clear:

This kind of (US) policy does not benefit people in China or the US, or the healthy development of enterprises in both countries. We firmly advocate any decision the Chinese government makes and hope US companies can make suggestions to their government.

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