China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines cleared to take Dreamliner

It is the first mainland carrier to operate the B787 after delays caused by battery problems

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 11:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 May, 2013, 4:28am

China Southern Airlines will be the first mainland carrier to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after the mainland aviation regulator gave the aircraft approval.

The Guangzhou-based carrier will take delivery of up to eight B787-8s this year, with the first expected by early next month.

The much-delayed delivery was due to incidents stemming from the over-heating of the aircraft's lithium battery. All 50 787s delivered worldwide were pulled out from operations and the aircraft's production suspended.

"We will deploy the plane on the Beijing-Guangzhou route for a soft launch before expanding to other domestic destinations," said an official from China Southern who declined to be named.

The carrier will put the wide-bodied airliner on international services three months after plying mainland routes.

Hong Kong passengers could check out the plane as early as in the winter schedule.

China Southern will be the only mainland carrier to operate both the 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft, which was used briefly between Beijing and Hong Kong.

China Southern has ordered 10 of the jets, as did its smaller counterpart, Hainan Airlines.

It is understood that Hainan Air will take delivery of the first 787 in the middle of next month, with plans for three more by the end of the year.

Air China, which has ordered 15 of the aircraft, will not take delivery of the first plane until 2016.

Boeing resumed deliveries of the 787 this month after the United States Federal Aviation Administration cleared the plane's return to commercial service on April 19, three months after it was grounded.

United Airlines resumed 787 operations on Monday while All Nippon Airways said it would put it into service tomorrow.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China approved the aircraft's airworthiness certificate on Thursday.

Boeing said earlier this month the 787 programme was on track to achieve a planned production of 10 planes per month in aggregate by the end of the year, including the production lines in Everett, Washington, and South Carolina.

The manufacturer has so far delivered about 50 787s to eight airlines and has global backlog orders of 800.

Shares in China Southern yesterday dropped 2.08 per cent to close at HK$3.77, in a market that fell 0.23 per cent.

Separately, China Eastern Airlines yesterday agreed to issue yuan bonds through Deutsche Bank with the amount depending on the response from bookbuilding to start next week in Hong Kong.