China Southern Airlines aspires to grow its share of international passengers, as it hopes that customers will choose its Guangzhou hub as a point of transit while travelling between Europe and Australasia.

"We want Guangzhou to become like the Los Angeles of China," China Southern president and chief executive Tan Wangeng tells Flightglobal.

China Southern has grown its international network in recent years. For example, the carrier used to serve only Paris and Amsterdam in Europe, but it now flies to London, Frankfurt, Moscow and Tbilisi among others.

The airline also flies to four Australian cities, and two in New Zealand.

"We want to promote China Southern as an international brand," says Tan. International flights now contribute about 30% of the carrier's capacity, compared with 18% in 2009, he notes.

China Southern's membership in SkyTeam has delivered significant benefits to the carrier in growing its presence abroad.

"SkyTeam has helped to integrate us further into the international marketplace," says Tan. China Southern employees have had the opportunity to attend training at other SkyTeam carriers, which has helped it learn best practices at other international airlines.

In line with the airline's ambition to grow internationally, Tan calls on the Chinese and US governments to negotiate a liberalised air services agreement to allow for more flight frequencies between the countries.

"The number of Chinese customers travelling to the USA has grown at about 20% annually," says Tan. "We hope the governments will start another round of talks to open up more traffic rights."

Chinese authorities are re-evaluating the limited US frequencies awarded to Chinese carriers to ensure that they are fully utilised. "This will hopefully produce some positive results," Tan says.

Source: Cirium Dashboard