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Latin America and Africa key growth markets: China Southern chief

China Southern Airlines is working towards becoming a more internationally recognised carrier as it seeks to capitalise on the growing Chinese economy.

In a forum session at World Routes in Guangzhou, the Skyteam carrier’s president and chief executive Tan Wan Geng explained that it will achieve its goal via long-haul network expansion and widebody fleet development.

Tan adds that China Southern has identified several target destinations that it intends to reach from its dual hubs at Guangzhou Baiyun International and the Beijing airport – a strategy that he says will be key to its success.

UK general manager Jian Zhang previously told FlightGlobal that its target is to handle 40% of the passenger traffic at the new Beijing airport, and that it will deploy more than 200 aircraft there by 2025. Beijing Daxing International airport is expected to have a capacity of 72 million passengers in its first phase.

Tan says that new destinations include expanding its network in Latin America, particularly to points in Brazil and Argentina, of which the newest destinations will be announced “within the next three years”. At the same time, China Southern will look to more destinations in Africa, which he says is in line with China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy to deepen commercial relations with its closest allies.

FlightGlobal schedules data shows that within Latin America, China Southern only operates to Mexico City via a stop at Vancouver from Guangzhou. In terms of Africa, it operates to Nairobi from Guangzhou.

“China is seeing a growth rate of outbound tourist numbers of 20% year-on-year over the past few years, and could have 200 million outbound tourists by 2020," says Tan. "Half of them are expected to [fly with] China-based airlines and we are keen to take advantage of that."

At the same time, the carrier will look to increase frequencies to key cities such as New York, Paris and London.

Tan explains that China Southern’s long-haul plans will be aided as it takes more deliveries of widebody aircraft.

He reveals that the carrier will look to increase its percentage of widebody aircraft from the current 12% to 15% by 2020. In the same timeframe, China Southern will also increase its total fleet size from 800 to around 1,000 aircraft.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that China Southern has orders for 14 Airbus A320/A321neos, as well as 20 A350-900s, 14 Boeing 787-9s and 42 737 Max 8s.

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