China Southern Wants To Launch New York to Wuhan Direct Flights

China Southern Airlines has applied for a route exemption to begin new nonstop service from Wuhan, China (WUH) to New York-JFK. If awarded the route, China Southern plans to begin the new US service in June 2019, just months away. China’s largest airline hasn’t indicated which aircraft would operate the new route, although other long haul routes to the US are flown on the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet.

China Southern Boeing 787 Dreamliner Guangzhou
China Southern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner takes off from Guangzhou (CAN). Photo by Boeing.

China Southern to launch New York from Wuhan, China

China Southern’s proposed New York route is the Chinese carrier’s second US long haul route from Wuhan, China (WUH). The carrier currently flies three flights per week to San Francisco (SFO) on a Boeing 777-300ER.

China Southern Airlines US Route Map
China Southern’s US route map. Image by GCMap.

From its main hub in Guangzhou, China (CAN), China Southern flies nonstop to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and New York (JFK). The former SkyTeam member also flies Shenyang (SHE) to Los Angeles (LAX) and Wuhan (WUH) to San Francisco (SFO).

China Southern’s proposed Wuhan (WUH) to New York (JFK) route covers a distance of 6,500 nautical miles.

China Southern leaves SkyTeam alliance in 2019

In November 2018, China Southern announced it would leave SkyTeam effective January 1st, 2019. In a press release, the carrier stated: “China Southern’s decision reflects its strategic development, the changing trends of the global aviation industry and the evolution of alliances.”

Before the exit of China Southern, the SkyTeam alliance also had China Eastern Airlines in its group. It’s unusual – although not unprecedented – to have two large airlines from one country in the same alliance.

China Southern Wants To Launch New York to Wuhan Direct Flights
China Southern operates a fleet of five Airbus A380 aircraft. Image by Sergey Kustov for Wikimedia.

In 2015, Delta invested $450 million in a strategic partnership with China Eastern, acquiring a 3.5% stake in the growing airline. China Southern likely felt squeezed out and instead chose to form closer ties with American Airlines. Two years ago, American invested $200 million in China Southern, prompting analysts to predicted the carrier would join the Oneworld alliance, although the formalized partnership has yet to materialize.

China’s largest airline continues growth

China Southern is among the world’s ten largest airlines and transports more passengers than any other carrier in Asia. The growing airline plans to fly over 2,000 aircraft by 2035. China Southern currently operates over 600 aircraft in its fleet, including five superjumbo Airbus A380 aircraft.

As well as this, China’s largest airline operates ten Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and ten 787-9s with ten more on order. The airline also plans to add 20 Airbus A350 aircraft to its fleet, with deliveries starting later this year.

China Southern Boeing 787 Dreamliner
China Southern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in a special Boeing livery. Image by Boeing.