China Southern Airlines has announced it will not renew its membership of the SkyTeam alliance from 1 January 2019. Transition arrangements are expected to last for up to a year.

The official reason for departing SkyTeam is to follow the industry trend where airlines cooperate directly in arrangements such as joint ventures. Influencing the decision may have been Delta’s $450 million investment into competitor China Eastern back in 2015, giving China Southern less clout in the alliance.

What next for China Southern?

There is a close relationship between China Southern and American Airlines, after the latter invested $200 million into the carrier in 2017. The airlines also have a codeshare arrangement together.

Agreements also exist with British Airways and Qantas. These three airlines all have one thing in common in that they are founding members of the oneworld alliance.

Could oneworld and China Southern marry?

oneworld is the only alliance without a member from mainland China. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon do cover a number of Chinese cities from their base in Hong Kong, but nothing like what China Southern would bring.

The Chinese carrier has an extensive domestic network, serving well over 100 different cities. Internationally, Europe, Australia, Africa and the United States are all served, plus they have comprehensive coverage of Asia.

It would be a win for the oneworld alliance, filling a large hole in the alliance map. The only concern would be whether Cathay Pacific would try to block an application or welcome it with open arms. China Southern’s Guangzhou hub is just 135 kilometres from Cathay’s Hong Kong base.

Looking at it from the perspective of the former SkyTeam carrier, it may also be a win. As the only Chinese airline in oneworld, they would be the only game in town for feeding passengers to China. This would give them more influence than they previously had in their old alliance.

Overall Thoughts

China Southern should be a good fit for the oneworld alliance. They are a SkyTrax 4 star rated airline, with a modern fleet and are the only Chinese carrier operating the Airbus A380.

For consumers, they often have very good deals via China to places such as Australia. If they do join, they will come onto my radar as a carrier, since I already hold a oneworld frequent flyer card.

What do you think of China Southern leaving SkyTeam? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Sergey Kustov via Wikimedia Commons.