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First Airbus A319neo aircraft intended for China Southern Airlines has been spotted at the European planemaker's Hamburg factory.

China Southern plans to add two types of narrow-body jets to its fleet of 857 aircraft, booking two A319neo and nine A321neo planes from Airbus. The 11 new planes are expected to add 1.9 billion yuan in annual revenue, China Southern said.

The expansion by China Southern, which flies to 243 destinations in mainland China and around the world, follows the solid recovery during the “golden week” of the nation’s national day in October, the longest public holiday since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in January.

Even though the aggressive ‘fly-at-will’ promotion packages

 have boosted airlines’ revenue, many of them are still flying international routes – the most profitable destinations – at 10 percent of their 2019 capacity, which compels them to tap the capital markets for capital.

China Southern, the sole operator among Chinese carriers of the A380 super jumbo by Airbus, said it’s aiming to grow into “a carrier with international scale and network,” to leverage on the potential of an aviation market where the capacity to carry passengers may grow to 1.5 billion by 2036, and the growth prospect of its home base the Greater Bay Area.

The use of the Airbus single-aisle aircraft would make up for the capacity of the 24 Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody jets grounded in China Southern’s fleet. The carrier was one of the first to ground the aircraft last year

, following two back-to-back crashes within five months involving the latest version of what Boeing called the “most popular jet aircraft of all time”.

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