EVERETT — China Southern took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft Tuesday at a Boeing facility in Everett, Washington. The aircraft will be deployed on non-stop service from the carrier’s Guangzhou hub in southeastern China to New York JFK in August of this year.
The carrier split the airplane into a four-class cabin, consisting of first, business, premium economy, and economy. The first class cabin consists of four open suites, manufactured by Contour. Each features 82 inches of pitch and 33″ of width in a 1-2-1 configuration. It also contains a 23″ personal HD TV.
Business class, also in a 1-2-1 configuration, features thirty-four seats manufactured by EADS Sogerma. Each has a full lie-flat bed 76 inches in length and 29″ wide.
Economy features 227 standard slimline seats in a 3-3-3 set-up with 32-33 inches of pitch and an 8.9″ screen: not bad, but no surprises.
Premium economy, meanwhile, features forty-four new seats by B/E Aerospace in a 2-4-2 configuration. While the model name wasn’t provided, the design was certainly unique. Set up as a basic cradle, the seat does not recline in the traditional sense. Instead, the entire upper frame shifts forward with a little forward scoot of the occupants rear end producing what the airline claims is 123 degrees of recline. It features 38″ of pitch, and a 10.6″ TV with in flight power.
The entertainment system is equipped with Thales TopSeries Avant inflight entertainment and connectivity system. It is based on the Android operating system, and boasts five languages according to the carrier.
A Sneak Peek:
Dong Su Guang, executive vice president for China Southern says that WiFi will be retrofitted fleet-wide to all China Southern aircraft, improving the passenger experience. He did not, however, provide a timeline for when that might take place. The current 777-300 is not WiFi equipped.
The carrier expects to receive five more 777-300ERs in 2014, with the next airplanes expected in July and August. The other five airplane deliveries will be staggered through 2015 and 2016.
Su Guang reports no other destinations are currently being considered for the remaining nine aircraft, or at least none he was willing to talk about publicly anyways. The New York route will join the carrier’s existing North American service to Los Angeles LAX and Vancouver YVR.
The carrier currently operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing long-haul aircraft. It is the only Chinese carrier to operate both the Airbus superjumbo and Boeing’s Dreamliner. Presently the carrier does not envision operating either aircraft to New York.
On the topic of Dreamliners, Su Guang says that the airplane has been performing well for the airline, reporting a dispatch rate of over 99%. China Southern 787s currently serve Auckland, New Zealand, London Heathrow, and Vancouver YVR. The carrier was one of the early customers of the jet, receiving its first this time last year.
It was also the Chinese launch customer for the 777 (Hong Kong was still under British rule at the time, knocking out Cathay Pacific), as well as 757-200, and 747-400 freighter. China Southern currently owns seventeen of the exceptionally popular 777 widebody jets, split between eight early model -200s, eight freighters, and now the one -300.