HONG KONG - China Southern Airlines Co, Asia's biggest carrier by passenger numbers, plans to expand its capacity by about 10 percent this year to match projected traffic growth of a similar level for the company.
"We expect the increase in international traffic to outpace growth in the domestic market because we opened many overseas routes in the past two years," Chief Financial Officer Xu Jiebo said on Thursday. He didn't provide a breakdown of figures.
The carrier joins Air China Ltd, the biggest airline by market value, in forecasting faster growth in international traffic in 2012. The number of Chinese tourists going overseas will probably rise 12 percent to 78.4 million this year, the research institute China Tourism Academy said on Jan 10.
China Southern is considering putting one Airbus SAS A380 on its daily Beijing-Hong Kong route to increase use of the superjumbo, Xu said. The airline has so far only deployed the planes on domestic routes as it seeks authorization to begin using A380s for international services, he said.
The carrier last year received two of five A380s ordered, and Airbus is scheduled to hand over the third plane next month, Xu said.
China Southern carried 80.7 million travelers in 2011, 5.5 percent more than a year earlier, according to company figures. The number of its international passengers increased 12.3 percent to 1.8 million.
Air China expects to boost international traffic as much as 18 percent in 2012, compared with as much as 9 percent growth for the domestic market, according to figures in a Jan 12 note from UBS AG that were confirmed by the company.
China Eastern Airlines Corp plans to boost its capacity by 10 percent this year and expects as much as a 12 percent increase in domestic traffic, UBS said in the note. The Shanghai-based carrier, which confirmed the numbers, also intends to focus on the domestic market as it doesn't plan to add long-haul routes and will cut some unprofitable services.