China Southern tries hard, maybe too hard, in Australia
What China Southern offers Australian travellers to Europe is insignificant beside the main game, which is to corner as much of the surging China-Australia market as it can.
China Southern has sprung to life in the Australian market in the last year, but sometimes things don’t go quite as well as they could have.
Yesterday it lost considerable PR impact in landing its first ever flight in Cairns by turning up in Sky Team livery, not the distinctive and imposing China Southern branding.
Sky Team is a global marketing alliance. Which is irrelevant in Australia, indeed global alliances are of less and less significance in general and Australia in particular, as the major airlines pursue joint ventures and business partnerships that involve ‘sleeping’ with what ever partner works best for whichever routes.
Today China Southern announced flat beds in business class and higher quality in flight video screens throughout in its A330-200 services on more of its flights between Australian cities and Guangzhou from 1 April.
But it also spruiked food which would be a ‘fusion’ between western and Chinese cuisine. No, no, no. Most if not all Australians who travel to China are keen to eat nothing but food from China’s rich and regionally distinctive cuisines. The last thing a China airline should do is ‘dilute’ the country’s culinary experiences. Please offer us the real thing, and nothing but.
What China Southern is setting out to do in this country can bring valuable new sources of business and leisure travellers from China to Australia. It has made an impressive investment in airliners and people to do this, and it promises to continue to link China to Australia on a scale befitting the Asian Century.
The efforts it is making to compete for kangaroo route travellers by connecting Australians to Europe via Guangzhou are interesting. But they are also a side show. The most interesting thing about the surging demand for travel to the rest of the world from China is what its airlines like China Southern are bringing to Australia, which is a deep new source of tourists, and the economic activity associated with them.
And that means that sooner than later, China Southern, which now claims to be the world’s third largest airline, will need a domestic partner. Will it be Virgin Australia or Qantas?