China Southern Airlines flew a record 44 million passengers in 2005, marking the largest single year passenger total in the airline’s 27 year history. In December 2005, they carried 63% more passengers than during the prior year’s same month. Unofficially, 44 million passengers would rank China Southern as within the Top 10 of the world’s leading airlines, according to Air Transport World magazine. The airline also moved more freight than any other airline in China in 2005; it boasts the largest and most technically advanced aircraft fleet in the People Republic of China.
China Southern’s growth can be attributed not only to its mergers with China Northern Airlines and Urumqu-based Xinjiang Airlines and to the addition of all new Airbus and Boeing aircraft, but also to the rapidly developing domestic Chinese marketplace. The rapid construction of the new Baiyun International Airport, China Southern’s base of operations, is another factor: the airport cost more than $3 billion US and managed more than 20 million passengers during its first year of operation.