It’s all go . . . Part 2

Newsflash! It looks like China Southern Airlines will be commencing flights between Guangzhou and Perth later this year. It was reported on the weekend that negotiations between the airline, airport and the WA state government are well advanced and that an official announcement is not too far away.

To me this seems like a perfectly logical development, after all Western Australia exports most of its minerals to China and the state is booming as a result. Cathay Pacific currently flies Perth – Hong Kong, but China Southern will be the first to the mainland. With so much trade between the two regions, it was only a matter of time before a mainland China airline started links.

China Southern Airlines logo

Many in Australia will not have heard of China Southern and will probably be surprised to learn that it is actually a very large airline, operating around 350 aircraft, including 10 Boeing 777-200’s, 18 Airbus A330’s, over 160 Airbus A319/320/321’s, over 100 Boeing 737’s of various types and with 5 Airbus A380’s on order. In 2010 they carried 76.5 million passengers and made a profit of approximately USD 880 million. They are not only the largest airline in China by passengers flown and fleet size, but the largest in Asia. All in all, a force to be reckoned with!

The curious thing though is that Guangzhou is not all that far from Hong Kong, only about 175 Km in fact, so they must believe there is enough demand from that region to warrant direct connections. As a result, I wouldn’t be too surprised if China Eastern (which now includes Shanghai Airlines) were to start links to Shanghai or Air China were to link Beijing. With so much trade, you would have to think there’d be quite a demand for business travel, let alone the tourist market.

All of this leads to a question – how come QANTAS isn’t the one launching services? Surely QANTAS’ local knowledge, the strength of the WA economy and the lack of pre-existing direct links would make someone think ‘Hey, there might be an opportunity there!’ Seemingly not . . .

Maybe QANTAS will wake up and realise there’s more to the world than London and Los Angeles. With a massive population that increasingly is able to afford overseas travel, China promises to become a major market and Western Australia is just the kind of place many might like to come, with its huge open spaces, fantastic beaches and weather, some top class golf courses and all at a price that, globally, is still quite cheap.

Come on QANTAS, let’s see some mainland China routes before they all get snapped up!

In another development, rumour has it that Virgin Blue will unveil their new branding on May 5. VB must be rubbing their hands together in glee at the amount of interest the rebranding is whipping up – just do a Google search for ‘Virgin Blue rebranding’ and the number of results is staggering!

The odds seem to be strengthening too that the airline will be renamed ‘Virgin Australia’, at least in the domestic market. Also tipped is that the airline will adopt the same font on its aircraft as Virgin Atlantic and that dark red and silver will be prominent colours, with the all over red fuselages being dropped.

Time will tell, but it’s shaping up to being one of THE corporate events in Australia this year!

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