China Southern and SkyTeam today announced that the airline would exit the global alliance that it joined back in 2007 effective January 1, 2019.
American Airlines made an investment into China Southern and the airlines have codeshare agreement in place. It has been rumored that China Southern has shown interest joining the Oneworld that doesn’t have partner airline based in mainland China unlike Star Alliance (Air China) and SkyTeam (China Eastern).
Here’s the announcement from SkyTeam:
Amsterdam, Guangzhou 15 November 2018. China Southern Airlines has decided not to renew its contract with SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, as of 1 January 2019.
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.”
This announcement shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone but I would have imaged that they had given longer advance notice. It is only 45 or so days until the partnership between China Southern and SkyTeam ends.
I guess that the plan is that the airline joins Oneworld at some point (perhaps in 2020 or 2021) as long as Cathay Pacific doesn’t veto it.