China Southern’s first Airbus A319neo has been spotted at Airbus’ production facility in Hamburg, Germany. The aircraft is the fourth A319neo ever made and the first one destined for China Southern. Let’s find out more about this rare variant of the A320neo family.
According to the South China Morning Post, China Southern only placed its order for the A319neo last month. The airline ordered nine A321neos and two A319neos as part of the issuance of convertible bonds. This means the airline has seen its first A319neo go from being ordered to painted in just over a month.
China Southern’s first A319neo was spotted at Airbus’ Hamburg production facility yesterday, with test registration D-AVWG. It is possible the plane was a whitetail aircraft, which means it has already been produced but does not have a customer due to cancellation or deferrals, which has become quite common this year. Nevertheless, China Southern’s first A319neo will likely be ready for delivery in the coming weeks.
the 4th built A319neo is the first for an airline:
after the prototype and two corporate jets, the first for China Southern, D-AVWG, msn 10239 at Airbus Hamburg… pic.twitter.com/Bzo6LNl3Cs
— Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography (@digro65) November 14, 2020
China Southern is using a combination of the A321neo and A319neo to fill gaps in its schedule due to the grounding on the 737 MAX. With domestic capacity at 100% in China, the carrier is looking for more narrowbody aircraft to meet demand. The 11 new aircraft could add up to $287.6mn (CNY1.9bn) in revenue annually.
Considering that China Southern is looking for a quick replacement for its grounded 737 MAX’s it will likely be taking delivery of this A319neo soon. The subsequent 10 aircraft could also make their way in the coming months.
China Southern’s strong year
After being hit hard by the emergence of COVID-19 in January, the Chinese airline industry has steadily recovered ever since. China Southern returned to profitability in Q3 after domestic demand reached 100% of pre-pandemic capacity in September, offsetting losses from international routes.
This quick recovery has seen China Southern become the biggest carrier in the world, as other large carriers cut capacity. Previous leader American Airlines has seen its capacity fall 50% while China Southern only fell 10%. This trend will likely hold as long as the pandemic continues, with nearly all countries struggling with high cases and low demand.
Rare A319neo order
As mentioned in the beginning, China Southern’s A319neo is the fourth one ever produced. The aircraft has struggled to generate sales, with only 84 orders since its launch, despite the immense popularity of the larger A320neo. The largest customer of the A319neo is Sprit Airlines with 47 aircraft, followed by an undisclosed customer for 30 planes. Only two planes are currently in operation.
The remaining orders come from Air Cote d’Ivoire (two aircraft) and Government/Private Jets (five aircraft). Interestingly, Airbus does not list China Southern’s order as of the end of October.
The A319neo has also been overshadowed by the popular A220 family, which has seen much higher sales. However, China Southern’s rare order is a boost for the aircraft type and we could see more orders from the carrier in the future too.
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