China Southern will introduce the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on flights between Sydney and London, in a move which could see the airline trump Qantas for the Dreamliner's commercial debut in Australian skies.
Making this popular but long-haul journey on Boeing's next-jen jetliner would be an appealing drawcard for China Southern as it seeks to grow its 'Canton Route', which involves a stopover at the airline's Guangzhou hub, as a compelling alternative to the Qantas-backed Kangaroo Route via Singapore.
The service currently uses Airbus A330s on three flights per week but as of late October will tick up to the daily frequency prized by business travellers.
China Southern president and CEO Mr Tan Wangeng confirmed his intentions for the Boeing 787 on the Sydney-London route during a visit to Sydney to open the airline's new regional office, but would not be drawn on the timetable.
The airline has 10 Boeing 787s on order, with the first due later this year.
This puts China Southern well ahead of Qantas, which will take delivery of its first Dreamliners in mid-2013, flying them under Jetstar's flag with Singapore as the hub, with the Red Roo's own 787s due to follow in 2015-2016.
According to China Southern's website, each of CZ's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners will sport four fully-flat lie-flat 'Deluxe First Class' seats with a 78 inch pitch; 24 lie-flat business class seats with a 74 inch pitch (and the same 26 inch seat width as first class); and 200 economy seats, with pitch ranging from 31 to 33 inches and a 17.2 inch width.
Update: China Southern has confirmed the business class seats on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be lie-flat beds.
The long trip between Sydney and London will however showcase the 787's passenger-friendly features such as a higher cabin pressure, higher humidity and fresher air, which combine to reduce fatigue and increase comfort during the flight.
For more details, read Why business travellers will love the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.