Airline alliance Oneworld has squashed rumors that it was secretly courting China Southern to join.
This news must come as a relief to airlines such as Cathay Pacific (A Oneworld member) who had little to gain and much to lose by China Southern’s (or potentially the opposite) proposed Oneworld entry.
What are the details?
During the Oneworld press conference that happened a week ago (which our delightful reporter Tom was invited to attend), the CEO of the organization at little to say about a possible entry by the mainland Chinese airline.
“We have no plans for China Southern to join our ranks” – Oneworld CEO, Rob Gurney
Part of the rumor has always been that Oneworld currently does not have a mainland China airline and lacks access to the Chinese domestic market. A market that is rapidly growing and will require 7,400 new aircraft and 200 new airports in the next twenty years. Tension heated up when both Qatar and American Airlines bought significant parts of China Southern, almost as if they were investing in them to bring them into their fold.
British Airways is also apparently in deep talks to launch a joint venture with the airline.
On the flip side, China Southern has been quick to say that they are focusing on being an independent airline since leaving Skyteam on the 1st of January this year. This will allow them to build their own partnerships with airlines in and out of other alliances, as well as aggressively expand on routes previously dominated by alliance partners.
There is a middle ground that might be still on the cards. China Southern might be invited to be a Oneworld connect partner. This is almost a ‘lite’ version of being a Oneworld member. But with some separate advantages:
Advantages for China Southern
- Does not need to avoid member territory and can expand freely
- Does not need to pay or invest in Oneworld (in terms of financial or points)
- Does not need to give existing customers (and their payments) to Oneworld or any that book separately through their own portal.
Advantages for Oneworld
- Passengers can use China Southern flights and routes and collect Oneworld points
- Passengers can also book through their own airline portals and book China Southern flights
- Access to China Southern member benefits and lounges
Already a few airlines around the world (One being Fiji Airways who joins this month) have jumped on the chance and it’s quite possible so will China Southern.
What do you think? Should China Southern be a part of Oneworld?