The first A380-841 to be received was construction number 31, B-6136, which was followed by cn 36, B-6137, two months later. The third aircraft (cn 54, B-6138) arrived in February 2012 and it was another 7 months before the fourth aircraft (cn 88, B-6139) was delivered. The last of the five ordered arrived in March 2013 and was cn 120, B-6140.
The wisdom of China Southern ordering the A380 has been questioned in many quarters as the type doesn't naturally fit into the airline's route network. Initially the A380s were used only on domestic services including short-lived services to Shanghai. Attempts to start Beijing-New York and Beijing-Paris routes with the type have been rebuffed by CAAC as Air China currently operates the routes. They have since been deployed also on international services but only operate one, Beijing-Los Angeles all year round. They can also be found seasonally on the Sydney service however the A380s remain under-utilised. In addition their usage on intensive short-haul sectors within China for which they are not designed has increased maintenance costs and decreased their residual values.
Having said that the A380 has been a great brand ambassador for the airline and set it apart from its competition. They have even developed their own A380 logo for the whale jet:
It is not unusual for Chinese airlines to not expect their forays into international markets to be profitable and China Southern at least externally has not seemed bothered by the lack of money the A380s have brought in. China Southern has recently been building up its international route network and it appears likely that the A380s will be deployed on further long-haul routes in the near future with Guangzhou-New York a likely contender to see the A380 soon. One complication however is that the A380 can carry less freight than the 777-300ER which currently operates the route and cargo is important from the Pearl Harbour industrial city. It'll be interesting to see what CZ does with its A380s in the future.
The huge size of the A380 is best shown when comparing it with other aircraft. Here it is enormous compared to the 70 seater ATR-72 which was also operated by China Southern.
CAPA February 2015: China Southern Airlines may deploy A380 to New York City to accelerate US east coast development
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: