China Southern slashes cost of Sydney-London return flights
Having raised its profile by operating China's first Airbus A380 routes, China Southern Airlines (CZ) is now lowering travel costs with a route that slashes the price of a Sydney-London return trip by US$400.
The Guangzhou-based company has started taking bookings for its new route between Guangzhou and London Heathrow, due to inaugurate on June 6. It directly challenges Qantas’s iconic “Kangaroo Route.”
With the carrier’s existing twice-daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne, this new "Canton Route" (广州之路) provides a cheaper option for travelers between Australia and the United Kingdom.
A return ticket for an economy class seat between London and Sydney costs RMB 13,491 (US$2,140) on China Southern Airlines, compared to Qantas' RMB 16,084 (US$2,550).
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More than a dozen international carriers now operate routes between Australia and London with stopovers in Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok.
Spanning approximately 17,059 kilometers, the “Kangaroo Route” is reportedly the world’s longest commercial air route.
Canton vs. Kangaroo
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (广州白云机场) was the second busiest airport in mainland China in 2011 and is roughly 200 kilometers northwest of Hong Kong International Airport.
China Southern's Guangzhou-London service is scheduled to run three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with an Airbus A332.
The shortest stopover via Baiyun International will peg the whole journey at 26 hours. Some of Qantas' Sydney-London flights can be done in 23 hours.
Guangzhou as the new Asian transfer hub
He Zongkai (何宗凯), China Southern executive vice president, told Australian Business Traveller that the carrier aimed "to make Guangzhou an ideal transfer hub between Australia and Europe."
The goal is not only based on the launch of flights between Guangzhou and London Heathrow, but also on the increased flight frequencies for Guangzhou-Paris and Guangzhou-Amsterdam which is set to kick off mid-year.
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Besides the Guangzhou-Sydney and Guangzhou-Melbourne routes, China Southern also operates four Guangzhou-Brisbane flights per week and three weekly flights between Guangzhou and Perth.
The airline aims to operate more than 110 weekly flights between Guangzhou and Australia by the end of 2015.