MIAMI — The first Airbus A350-900 for Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines (CZ) has been spotted in Toulouse sporting the airline’s full livery while performing a test flight.

In April 2017, China Southern inked an order for 20 A350-900s, scheduled for delivery in 2019 (six planes), 2020 (four), and 2021 (four).

The state-owned airline is China’s largest carrier, with over 600 aircraft and more than 100,000 employees stationed around the globe. China Southern operates more than 3,000 daily flights to 224 destinations in 40 countries.

Photo: Eurospot

The new A350s will come with China Southern’s new Business Class cabin, fitted with all-new Recaro CL6710 seats. The German company calls these the “flagship for long-haul applications.”

Recaro’s CEO, Mark Hiller, admitted being “delighted and proud that the entire cabin of China Southern’s new A350-900 aircraft will be equipped with our seats.”

Source: Recaro

According to Hiller, the new seats are “intuitive to use, offers generous storage space and allows direct access to the aisle for every passenger.”

The new cabins will feature a 1-2-1 configuration for 28 passengers, all with direct aisle access.

In Premium Economy, the airline has chosen 24 Recaro seats, which come with the customary leg rests and in-flight entertainment screens. Right behind, 261 seats follow in Economy Class.

Source: Recaro

The Chinese carrier released its initial Airbus A350 schedule, which launches on July 1, 2019, on the airline’s hub-to-hub Guangzhou (CAN) -Beijing (PEK) route.

The aircraft will operate the CZ3103 and CZ3110 rotations, departing CAN at noontime, arriving in PEK by 15:10, turning around at 19:30 and landing in CAN by 22:50.

Back in January, the carrier announced plans for a dual-hub strategy after a strong 2018. The plan would see the carrier’s Guangzhou hub dual up with a new one in Beijing-Daxing Airport later this year.

These moves come after the airline decided to leave the SkyTeam alliance on January 1, 2019, shifting its strategy to focus on seeking partnerships with other carriers outside of SkyTeam.

China Southern had been a member of SkyTeam since November 2007 as the eleventh member of the alliance. 

Today, the carrier’s fleet consists of 616 aircraft—it is the largest airline in China.