It’s been a while since an airline has chosen to dump itself out of an alliance – but China Southern Airlines has chosen to leave SkyTeam
The announcement was made on China Southern’s Weibo, followed by an announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It seems the airline wishes to develop its own strategy of routes, network and partnerships outside the scope of Skyteam.
The airline will commence it’s withdraw from the Skyteam from the 1st January 2019, with the process running through 2019, and due to be completed by the end of that year.
Skyteam’s response can be best regarded as disappointing, with the alliance stating:
China Southern’s decision reflects its strategic development, the changing trends of the global aviation industry and the evolution of alliances.
SkyTeam and China Southern have agreed to work closely together to ensure a seamless transition for all customers and partners. That process will run throughout 2019 and will complete by the year-end.
Kristin Colvile, SkyTeam CEO, “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.”
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen airlines cross traditional boundaries, and setting up Joint Business Agreements, and even airlines invest in each other – in China Southern’s case, a US$200 million investment made by American Airlines.
Will China Southern join oneworld?
Probably the biggest question of them all. It would seem logical first glance, base on the owners, and the partnerships China Southern has made.
But there will be issues – the biggest one over the Pearl River Delta called Cathay Pacific Airways.
As a founding member of the oneworld alliance, it has a lot of pull and say within it – and it may not be happy to have a neighbour go fully after its traffic and divert customers away from its hub.
None the less, unlike some airline CEO’s who talk about leaving an alliance, and do nothing about it – China Southern has walked away from SkyTeam.
How this plays out over the next few months will be interesting. With China Southern being one of the largest carriers in mainland China, with a fleet size of 582 aircraft, split across regional, narrow-body, wide-body and super heavy aircraft operating out of Guangzhou and Beijing, there is a lot of room for capturing passengers and loyalties.
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