China Southern committed to Airbus orders: report

China Southern Airlines said Friday it has no plans to cancel or delay its Airbus orders, Dow Jones Newswires reported, despite Chinese opposition to the European Union airlines carbon emissions fee.

The comments by chairman Si Xianmin come as the carrier announced its net profit fell 12.6 percent to 5.1 billion yuan ($806 million) last year as global economic woes and rising fuel costs took their toll.

Si said the company -- the only Chinese carrier to have ordered the A380 superjumbo -- remained committed to its existing Airbus orders, according to the report.

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China Southern said it would take delivery of the fourth of its five A380s in September, with the last jet coming in early 2013, the report said.

China is among more than two dozen countries that opposes the EU tax, which is imposed on airlines taking off or landing in Europe.

Earlier this month, EADS -- which owns Airbus -- said the Chinese government was blocking orders by Chinese carriers of some planes made by the aviation giant due to the EU scheme.

But the EU has said the carbon tax will help it achieve its goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and that it will not back down, despite claims the charge violates international law.

China Southern said its operating revenue last year rose 19.2 percent to 92.7 billion yuan, according to a statement on the Shanghai stock exchange.

"In 2011, growth in the global airline market slowed due to slow recovery in developed economies, tense political situations in some regions and sudden incidents such as the Japan earthquake," the firm said.

"Passenger demand for air traffic domestically still kept growing thanks to the stable and relatively fast growth of the Chinese economy and the increase in consumer demand, but it slowed down compared to 2010."

Demand for air traffic in China has boomed as the country's economy roars ahead and an increasingly affluent middle class travels more frequently.

But growth in the world's second largest economy is slowing, and coupled with that, fuel prices are rising.

The airline -- one of China's big three carriers along with Air China and China Eastern Airlines -- said its fuel costs rose nearly 40 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year.

by Simon Martin © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Mar 30, 2012