China Southern Airlines

China Southern's new superjumbo grounded

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 October, 2011, 12:00am


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China Southern Airlines' much-hyped new Airbus A380 superjumbo had barely clocked up the first of its air miles before it had to be grounded over equipment failure.

A mechanical breakdown forced the airline to replace its scheduled A380 flights between Beijing and Shanghai with a smaller A330 passenger plane yesterday, less than two weeks after its maiden flight, the company said.

China Southern said on its website that it was waiting for equipment from abroad to fix the problem. It did not specify when the 500-seat A380 would return to the skies, nor give details of the failure.

'We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience to passengers,' the airline said.

'The safety of passengers is always our top priority. We will fix the problem and resume normal operation of the A380 as soon as possible.'

The National Business Daily website quoted a member of the airline's staff as saying Toulouse-based manufacturer Airbus was responsible for repairs to the plane.

'Any problems with the A380 should not be fixed by us. It must be examined and repaired by experts from Airbus. So there is no timetable for resuming flights,' the staff member said.

China Southern took delivery of the A380 jumbo jet on October 15 and put the aircraft on its debut flight two days later. The plane had been in operation for just 12 days before it was grounded.

It was the first of five A380 jets to be delivered to China Southern. Airbus is due to deliver four more A380s to the carrier, one by the end of the year, two next year and another in 2013, according to the National Business Daily.

China Southern is the seventh carrier in the world to operate the superjumbo, and the first to use it on a domestic flight. The aircraft is scheduled to shuttle between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and is expected to ply international routes in the future.

The Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport has modified many of its facilities to accommodate the giant airliner.

Industry observers said China Southern's purchase of A380s was fuelled by its ambition to attract premium passengers to take its international flights.