China Southern today announced and confirmed what has been rumoured for a long time, they are to leave the Skyteam alliance. Formally the airline has announced that they will not renew the contract with Skyteam as of 1 January 2019. The transition period will then continue throughout 2019, to be completed by the end of 2019.
“China Southern’s decision reflects its strategic development, the changing trends of the global aviation industry and the evolution of alliances”, explains Skyteam in a press statement.
The CEO of Skyteam, Kristin Colvile, has also made a statement: “Network has always been the foundation of SkyTeam. Our new value proposition retains that strong integrated network and combines it with our continued focus on improving customer experience through technology. China Southern has been a valued member of SkyTeam. We respect its decision and wish it well.”
There have been many speculations about the reasons behind the decision such as facing tough competition from Chinese carrier China Eastern, also a member in the Skyteam alliance. There are basically three major airlines in China today – Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, and two of them are in the same alliance. Also Chinese carriers Xiamen Air and Shanghai Airlines, a subsidiary of China Eastern, are both members of Skyteam.
There are also many speculations about China Southern eventually joining the OneWorld alliance, which would mean one major Chinese carrier in each alliance. OneWorld today has a large base in Hong Kong with both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon based there, but there is no Chinese carrier in OneWorld. China Southern have also expanded its cooperation with OneWorld members British Airways, Qantas and American Airlines.
China Southern today is not only the largest airline in China but also the largest airline in Asia both in number of aircrafts, passengers and revenue. The main hub is in Guangzhou in southern China with a second hub in Beijing. They also have a number of smaller secondary hubs.