Late last month I wrote about the interesting rumor that China Southern may be joining oneworld, while Cathay Pacific may be joining Star Alliance. Personally I think it’s highly unlikely that Cathay Pacific leaves oneworld and joins Star Alliance, even though Cathay Pacific’s second biggest shareholder is Air China, which is in the Star Alliance.
However, I think it’s a lot more likely that China Southern joins oneworld. They’re presently in SkyTeam, though American recently bought a stake in the airline, and they’ve generally been treated as the second rate Chinese airline after China Eastern, given that Delta has a stake in China Eastern.
Some have argued that oneworld couldn’t sustain airlines based in both Guangzhou and Hong Kong, given how close the cities are to one another. Personally I think Guangzhou and Hong Kong are very different markets despite how close they are to one another geographically. So while I think China Southern would love to join oneworld, I suspect this will come down to whether Cathay Pacific tries to veto them joining the alliance.
Anyway, while not necessarily indicative of China Southern leaving SkyTeam, I do find this development interesting. Not only have American and China Southern recently launched a codeshare agreement, but British Airways and China Southern have just announced a new codeshare agreement, impacting flights within the UK and China.
Per @airlineroute, the agreement kicks off in mid-December, and sees British Airways placing their code on a handful of domestic China Southern flights out of Beijing and Shanghai, and sees China Southern placing their code on a handful of domestic British Airways flights out of London.
I find this to be an interesting development, though in and of itself it’s not indicative of them leaving the alliance. For example, while Air Canada is a happy Star Alliance member (as far as I know), they have a codeshare arrangement with Virgin Australia in Australia and Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, given that they don’t otherwise have much connectivity in those regions.
Given SkyTeam’s weakness in the UK, it could be that this is simply a reciprocal agreement to get more passengers on these flights.
However, in light of the China Southern oneworld rumors, I found this development to be even more interesting, as China Southern has ties with a growing number of oneworld airlines.