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China Southern Airlines Company Limited
China Southern Airlines logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1 July 1988 (1988-07-01)
  • Beijing–Capital
  • Guangzhou
Secondary hubs
  • Chongqing
  • Shanghai–Pudong
  • Ürümqi
Focus cities
  • Changchun
  • Chengdu
  • Changsha
  • Dalian
  • Guiyang
  • Haikou
  • Hangzhou
  • Harbin
  • Seoul–Incheon
  • Jieyang
  • Shenyang
  • Shenzhen
  • Wuhan
  • Xi'an
  • Zhengzhou
  • Zhuhai
Frequent-flyer program Sky Pearl Club
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 541 (Including cargo)
Destinations 208
Company slogan Fly your dreams (Chinese: 飞向您的梦想
Parent company China Southern Air Holding
Traded as
  • SSE: 600029 (A share)
  • SEHK: 1055 (H share)
Headquarters Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Key people Tan Wangeng (Vice Chairman/President)
Revenue Increase CN¥99.514 billion (2012)
Operating income Increase CN¥5.099 billion (2012)
Net income Decrease CN¥2.619 billion (2012)
Total assets Increase CN¥142.45 billion (2012)
Total equity Increase CN¥39.734 billion (2012)
Employees 100,000 (2015-2016)
Website (in Chinese)

China Southern Airlines Company Limited is an airline headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. Established on 1 July 1988 following the restructuring of the Civil Aviation Administration of China that acquired and merged a number of domestic airlines, the airline became one of China's "Big Three" airlines (alongside Air China and China Eastern Airlines), the world's fourth-largest airline measured by passengers carried and Asia's largest airline in fleet size, revenue and passengers carried. With its main hubs at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport, the airline operates more than 2,000 flights to 208 destinations daily as a member of SkyTeam. The logo of the airline consists of a kapok flower (which is also the city flower of Guangzhou) on a blue tail fin.

The parent company of China Southern Airlines Company Limited is China Southern Air Holding Company, a state-owned enterprise that was supervised by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

In 1984, the Chinese government disclosed the decision to decentralise the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Formed in 1949, CAAC was an all-encompassing organisation responsible for civil aviation in China as it was tasked with passenger transport, resource development and survey work, air traffic control, aircraft maintenance and personnel training. The decentralisation decision would result in numerous regional airlines, with four main carriers to be responsible for the majority of international and domestic air traffic: Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and China Southwest Airlines; CAAC itself would be rationalised into a regulatory and administrative organisation.

In 1988, CAAC granted its seven regional divisions, among which was the Guangzhou Regional Administration, limited operating autonomy with the status of "associate" airlines. China Southern Airlines began flying under its own name and livery in February 1991. At this time, the aircraft operated some 160 flights a day on 100 routes using the Antonov An-24, Boeing 737 and Boeing 757, along with helicopters and agricultural aircraft. In December 1992, the airline placed an US$800-million order for six Boeing 777s and the associated spare parts and training.

The airline completed its decentralisation from CAAC when it gained independence on 10 October 1993. As such, the airline could from then on restructure itself into shareholding enterprises, independently arrange external financing and establish subsidiaries to complement its core enterprise. During the airline's early years, the carrier was the dominant domestic carrier. Together with the two major airlines of China – Air China and China Eastern – the airline handled half of passenger traffic carried by all Chinese carriers. Owing to Air China's status as the country's flag carrier, the airline is entitled to extensive international service rights, with China Eastern and China Southern's international networks confined to mainly East Asia and within Asia, respectively. Like other Chinese carriers, China Southern was subjected to CAAC's exclusive right to grant operating rights for every prospective route as well as to regulate domestic prices.

To raise its operating standards and distance itself from mostly unprofitable second and third tiers domestic airlines, the carrier signed agreements with a number of foreign carriers regarding staff training and aircraft maintenance, with the ultimate aim of being listed on the New York Stock Exchange, possibly as soon as early 1995.

Starting in the mid-1990s, China Southern sought to expand its international reach beyond Asia. In December 1995, the Chinese and US governments signed an aviation agreement that would allow the commencement of non-stop air services between the two countries. After having been granted the right to establish services to Amsterdam in early 1996, the airline started Guangzhou–Beijing–Amsterdam, its first long-haul route, in November 1996. The following year, the carrier commenced non-stop trans-Pacific services Los Angeles, as well as services to Brisbane.

The start of European and American services coincided with the arrival of the long-range Boeing 777s, the first of which was delivered in late December 1995, as well as a general expansion and upgrade of the carrier's fleet and the associated facilities. Due to engine-certification and labour-relations issues, the delivery of the first Boeing 777 was more than a month behind schedule. As a result, the carrier considered, but ultimately decided against, leasing the Boeing 747-400, which would have been used to cover anticipated delays as well as to launch trans-Pacific services to the US. Nevertheless, the airline planned to double its fleet of 67 aircraft. In April 1996, the Chinese government would place an order, on China Southern's behalf, for 10 Airbus A320s; the delivery of the first aircraft, and China Southern's first Airbus, was made the following year. Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company, which was jointly established with Lockheed Aircraft Services International and Hutchinson Whampoa, was carrying out expansion of its aircraft maintenance facilities in anticipation of the increase.

In order to keep pace with fast developments, China Southern raised capital from the capital market. The airline was successfully listed on the Hong Kong and New York Stock Exchanges in July 1997, raising $600–$700 million. Much of the funds raised were used to facilitate the airline's fleet expansion, repay debt and investments in other capital; it followed up with domestic listing in 2003 at the Shanghai Stock Exchange. By 1997, the airline, along with its joint-venture airlines Xiamen Airlines, Shantou Airlines and Guangxi Airlines, was carrying some 15 million passengers per year using about 90 aircraft, operating about 270 routes among 68 destinations and almost 2,450 flights per week. The airline group's revenue totalled some US$1.4 billion with a net income of $90 million.

The end of the 1990s was a period of consolidation for the Chinese airline industry. Initially, China Southern looked to acquire several smaller non-profitable domestic carriers as it sought to highlight its expansion plans in an effort to raise funds; among the deals was the purchase of 60% shares of Guizhou Airlines. Due to the weakening economy amidst the 1997 Asian financial crisis and intense competition among the some 30 Chinese carriers, in 1998, CAAC considered a comprehensive restructuring of the industry that would see the consolidation of the airlines into three or five carrier groups. At one stage, it was reported that CAAC was contemplating a forced merger of Air China and China Southern. Given the latter's dual listing in Hong Kong and New York, it was thought that such a merger would have eased Air China's path towards its own share offering. China Southern confirmed that such talks between them were occurring, although they ultimately proved fruitless. Had the merger proceeded, their combined fleets would have numbered some 250 aircraft, which would have made the resultant airline the largest in Asia.

Although there was considerable resistance to CAAC's call to rationalise the industry, in July 2000, the administrative body announced that the ten airlines under its direct management will be merged into three airline groups, revolving around Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern itself. Within a month, China Southern had started absorbing Zhengzhou-based Zhongyuan Airlines, which at the time operated five Boeing 737s and two Xian Y-7 turboprops. The carrier would later merge with Shenyang-based China Northern Airlines and Urumqi-based Xinjiang Airlines to form China Southern Air Holding Co., a process that took more than two years and would culminate in China Southern's acquisition of their US$2 billion's worth of assets (as well as $1.8 billion of debt) in November 2004. Consequently, China Southern's fleet expanded from some 140 aircraft to over 210. The takeovers meant that the carrier became the main airline at Shenyang and Urumqi, with passenger numbers' jumping from 28.2 million in 2004 to 44.1 million in 2005. As a result, China Southern Airlines became one of the "Big Three" carriers in the country. Since then, it has successively taken over shareholding stocks and joined the equity in numerous Chinese carriers. The airline is the major shareholder of Xiamen Airlines (55%) and Chongqing Airlines (60%); it also invests in Sichuan Airlines (39%).

Amidst the major consolidation of the airline industry, China Southern in April 2000 started dedicated cargo services from Shenzhen using a Boeing 747-200F (which was quickly upgraded to the Boeing 747-400F) wet-leased from Atlas Air. To capitalise on the economic growth of the Pearl River Delta region (which includes Hong Kong), the carrier constructed a dedicated cargo centre in Shenzhen. Successful operations prompted an order for two Boeing 747-400Fs the following year. The airline by now had commenced operations to Sydney and Melbourne.

In September 2003, China Southern signed a purchase agreement for four Airbus A330-200s, to be delivered from 2005. This was part of the order placed in April by the China Aviation Supplies Imp. & Exp. Group covering 30 aircraft. China Southern became the first mainland Chinese A330 operator with the delivery of the first example February 2005. China Southern followed up in September 2005 with a further order for eight A330-300s and two A330-200s.

The month of January 2005 proved to be significant for civil aviation in China in general and China Southern in particular. In preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China Southern and the Chinese government placed several landmark widebody-aircraft orders from Airbus and Boeing. More specifically, on 28 January 2005, the carrier became the first (and so far the only) Chinese carrier to commit to the Airbus A380 double-deck aircraft, when it signed a general-terms agreement for five examples worth US$1.4 billion at catalogue prices. On the same day, China Southern, along with five other domestic carriers, placed a bulk order for 60 Boeing 7E7s (later renamed the Boeing 787 Dreamliner). The aircraft were worth $7.2 billion at list prices, and the first example was expected to be delivered in time for the Olympics; however, the first aircraft did not arrive until June 2013.

Earlier during the month, the CAAC had approved the temporary operations of charter flights between mainland China and Taiwan. On the same day as the widebody orders, a China Southern Airlines Boeing 777-200 took off from Guangzhou and landed in Taipei the following day, becoming the first mainland Chinese aircraft to land in the Republic of China since 1949, when the Kuomintang were involved in Chinese Civil War with the Communist Party of China. The flight carried 242 passengers home after the Lunar New Year. Previously, passengers travelling between the mainland and Taiwan had to transit through a third port such as Hong Kong or Macau. Within three years, in July 2008, a China Southern Airlines Airbus A330 carrying 230 tourists again landed in Taipei. The governments of China and Taiwan had both agreed to allow direct flights across the Taiwan Strait in June, ending six decades of limited air travel between the two sides. Following the flight, China Southern Airlines Chairman and pilot of the flight, Liu Shaoyong, said, "From today onward, regular commercial flights will replace the rumbling warplanes over the skies of the Taiwan Strait, and relations between the two sides will become better and better."

Following two years of negotiations which had started in August 2004, China Southern in late June 2006 signed an agreement with SkyTeam, one of the three global airline alliances, formally pledging itself to the improvement of standards with the aim of its eventual joining. According to the agreement, the airline committed to the upgrade of handling services, facilities and training of at least 75% of its staff to SkyTeam's standards. On 15 November 2007, China officially joined SkyTeam, becoming the eleventh carrier to join the grouping and the first mainland Chinese carrier to join an airline alliance. The welcoming ceremony was attended by high-ranking Chinese government and SkyTeam corporate officials and was held at the Great Hall of the People. The carrier's integration with the alliance continued with its entry into SkyTeam Cargo in November 2010, and its joint-venture carrier Xiamen Airlines' formal joining in November 2012. With China Eastern's ascension in June 2011, SkyTeam furthered its leading presence on the mainland Chinese market; the remaining Big Three carrier, Air China, is a member of Star Alliance.

It followed up with another Airbus order on 7 July 2006, when it confirmed a deal covering the purchase of 50 more A320 narrow bodies for delivery from 2009. The order included 13 A319-100s, 20 A320-200s and 17 A321-200s, reportedly worth $3.3 billion at list price. In December 2005, China Southern Airlines along with CASGC, announced an order with Boeing for 9 Boeing 737-700s and 11 Boeing 737-800s.

In June 2006, China Southern Airlines confirmed another order of 3 Boeing 737-700s and 7 Boeing 737-800s. The deliveries would continue through 2010. On 18 October 2006, China Southern Airlines placed an order for 6 Boeing 777 freighters, striding forward a brand new step in its cargo development. The aircraft would be delivered from November 2008 to July 2010.

On 20 August 2007, China Southern Airlines announced its intention for an order of 25 Boeing 737-700s and 30 Boeing 737-800s, which will be delivered from May 2011 to October 2013. It was a mere two months before, on 23 October 2007, China Southern Airlines announced that it had placed an order for 10 additional Airbus A330-200s. The order has a listed price of US$1.677 billion and the aircraft will be delivered from March 2010 to August 2012.

During 2009, China Southern Airlines remodeled its strategy from a point to point hub to a full hub and spoke carrier, which has been proven successful. Along with that, the airline has rapidly expanded its international market share, particularly in Australia, where passenger numbers in 2011 have been 97% greater than in 2010.

On 21 January 2010, China Southern Airlines announced an order for an additional 20 A320-200s, scheduled for delivery from 2011, due to the falling fuel costs and surging passenger demand.

In March 2010, the Chinese carrier issued new shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai 2010 to raise 10.75 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) in a bid to pay off outstanding loans. In December, CNY810 million ($121.5 million) was injected by China Southern Airlines into its subsidiary Xiamen Airlines to fund its fleet expansion.

In November 2010, China Southern Airlines signed an agreement with Airbus for the purchase of six A330s and 30 A320s–200.

On 11 January 2011, China Southern Airlines announced a lease for 10 Embraer E-190, set to be delivered from the second half of 2011.

On 27 January 2011, China Southern Airlines was awarded a four-star ranking by Skytrax. It is the largest airline to hold this title.

On 17 October 2011, China Southern Airlines made its first flight with the Airbus A380. Initially, the airline deployed the A380s on domestic routes, flying between Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. At the same time, the carrier conducted negotiations to commence A380 international services. Due to the government-imposed limitation which confined an international route to a single airline, China Southern in August 2012 announced its intention to initiate Beijing-Paris services in cooperation with Air China, pending government approval. Two months later, the A380 was deployed on Guangzhou-Los Angeles services. Early A380 operations were unprofitable and the aircraft, underutilised; services to Sydney were thus launched in October 2013. By now talks with Air China on Beijing-Paris services had ceased.

While China Southern, like the other Big Three Chinese carriers, had been expanding rapidly since 2000, much of their activities had been focused on the domestic market. With the increase in outflow of Chinese tourists, who in 2012 for example spent $102 billion internationally, as well as the rapid construction and introduction of high-speed rail in China, the carrier shifted its outlook overseas in order to sustain growth. Owing to the location of its hub at Guangzhou, which hinders the airline effectively serving the North American market, the airline concentrated its international expansion on Australasia. In June 2012, with the inauguration of services from Guangzhou to London-Heathrow, the airline started marketing its services connecting Europe and Australia as the "Canton Route", an alternative to the Kangaroo Route flown by carriers such as Qantas. It hoped to attract the predominantly business traffic that travel between Europe and Australia, and channel such sixth-freedom traffic as well as traffic from mainland China through its Guangzhou hub (thereby transforming the carrier's network from one that emphasises point-to-point to a hub-and-spoke system). The carrier by now had added cities such as Auckland, Istanbul, Perth and Vancouver to its route map.

During May–June 2012, China Southern Airlines has recruited Dutch flight attendants to serve the First and Business class sections for flights from Guangzhou to Amsterdam.

On 7 June 2013, China Southern Airlines began operating its first Boeing 787.

Shortly after the disappearance and crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, China Southern revealed that seven of the passengers had bought tickets on the flight via its codeshare agreement with Malaysia Airlines. Two of those passengers have been confirmed to have been traveling with stolen passports.

In early 2015 it was announced that the airline would lease 24 Airbus A320neo aircraft from AerCap for delivery between 2016 and 2019.

China Southern is headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

China Southern plans to open a new headquarters facility on a 988-acre (400 ha) site on the outskirts of Guangzhou, about 4 miles (6.4 km) from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Woods Bagot won a competition for the architect firm which would design the facility. The proposed site consists of two parcels of land on opposite sides of a highway leading to Baiyun Airport; both sites are shaped like wings. The site will have a bridge and light rail system that operates above the highway to connect the two parcels, which will each have distinct functions. For instance, the east parcel will house internal functions such as the data center facilities, staff dormitories, and the training center. The airline wants it to be aesthetically pleasing from the air since it sits below a runway approach. The site will have a lot of outdoor space, which Woods Bagot designed along with Hargreaves Associates and Sherwood Design Engineers. Jean Weng, a Woods Bagot Beijing-based principal, said "Most Chinese cities are very dense and very urban, but China Southern wants to create a human-scale campus, that’s close to nature."

China Southern Airlines serves 193 destinations in 35 different countries worldwide. It maintains a strong presence in the domestic market with its main hubs at Beijing Capital International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport with secondary hubs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, and Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport, along with other focus cities in Changchun, Changsha, Dalian, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Zhengzhou. The airline plans to continue to develop Chongqing and Ürümqi as hubs as well to exploit the domestic market potential.

China Southern currently offers 485 flights a day from its Guangzhou hub and 221 from its Beijing hub. The airline provides services to 65 international destinations. Most of the international flights link Guangzhou with world cities. There are also plenty of international flights operated through Beijing, Shanghai, Ürümqi (notably to Central Asia) and Dalian (to Japan, South Korea, and Russia). China Southern Airlines has developed an extensive network to Southeast Asia and also has become the Chinese airline with the largest presence in Australia. China Southern is also considering expanding into the South American markets, as well as further expansion into the African market.

On 28 August 2004, China Southern Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the airline alliance SkyTeam. On 15 November 2007, the airline was officially welcomed as the 11th member of SkyTeam, becoming the first mainland Chinese airline to join any global airline alliance, expanding the alliance's presence on mainland China.

China Southern Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:

The China Southern Airlines Passenger fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of October 2017):

China Southern Airlines is the only Chinese airline to order and to operate an Airbus A380. The airline initially operated these aircraft on Beijing–Hong Kong and Beijing–Guangzhou routes. However, these services struggled to be profitable. Due to the demand limitation of the airlines' international hub at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, few routes from Guangzhou have the demand to support an A380. In effort to make its A380s viable, China Southern started operating A380 on its Guangzhou–Los Angeles route and on the Guangzhou–Sydney route. Now the A380 comes to Sydney every summer (southern hemisphere) during its peak travel period. As from 20 June 2015, China Southern will operate the Airbus A380 from Beijing to Amsterdam. Currently, the A380 also operates 4 domestic flights each day between Beijing and Guangzhou.

China Southern Cargo is the cargo subsidiary of China Southern Airlines. The cargo airline provides services between mainland China and North America, Europe, and Australia, where destinations such as Amsterdam, Anchorage, Chicago, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Vienna and London Stansted are served from its main hub at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, with cargo flights to Amsterdam and Milan from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. The cargo subsidiary has joined the SkyTeam Cargo alliance in November 2010.

China Southern Airlines has previously operated the following aircraft

China Southern Airlines offers First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class.

China Southern Airlines offers an "Experience Luxurious Skybed" on Boeing 787-8s. It is equipped with personal privacy, in-built massage, a 17-inch personal TV and fully reclining seat. It also has First Class on Airbus A330s and Boeing 777-300ERs, which features a seat pitch of 84 inches and converts into a fully flat bed with a personal TV.

China Southern Airlines offers Premium First Class on select flights, such as on the Beijing-Guangzhou route. This cabin offers more amenities and is more spacious than Regular First Class, such as a variety of lighting options and a private storage cabinet with a password lock.

Business Class also offers a fully flat bed, and an adjustable privacy divider. It includes a USB port and a reading light. It also has a 15-inch TV.

Economy Class features a comfortable seat and a 9-inch personal TV. It also has a multi-adjustable headrest.

China Southern also offers Premium Economy class, which is more spacious than Economy class. In most aircraft, the seats are 35–37 inches (89–94 cm), compared to 31 inches (79 cm) in Economy. The Boeing 777-300ERs however, are equipped with fixed-shell premium economy seats similar to those seen on Air France's Boeing 777s.

China Southern Airlines's frequent-flyer program is called Sky Pearl Club (simplified Chinese: 明珠俱乐部; traditional Chinese: 明珠俱樂部; pinyin: Míngzhū Jùlèbù). The Sky Pearl Club allows its members earn FFP mileage not only flying China Southern domestic segments but also on flights of other SkyTeam member airlines within the SkyTeam global network. Additionally, Sky Pearl Club members can 'earn and burn' mileage on partnered Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and China Airlines' flights. Membership of Sky Pearl Club is divided into three tiers: Sky Pearl Gold Card (SkyTeam Elite Plus), Sky Pearl Silver Card (SkyTeam Elite) and Sky Pearl Member Card.

In 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered China Southern Airlines to pay $11,600 in fines for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) during the airline’s transport of monkeys to laboratories in the United States. The USDA found the airline had transported more than 1,000 monkeys into the United States without federal permission to do so and had transported the animals in insecure crates. Previously, the airline had been ordered to pay $14,438 for AWA violations during one transport that left more than a dozen monkeys dead after they went without food and water for an extended period of time. Following these most recent violations, China Southern announced that it would no longer transport monkeys to laboratories. PETA had protested against the airline for these shipments.

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China Southern Airlines Company Limited ZNH report Q2 2017
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