Hainan Airlines May Join An Alliance In 2022

Chinese giant Hainan Airlines might be joining an Alliance soon!

The fourth-largest carrier in China has revealed that it is assessing it’s eligibility to join an alliance by 2022.

Hainan Airlines May Join An Alliance In 2022
Hainan Airlines A340 in flight. Source: Laird Kay

What is the story?

The executive team has released a document to all staff members explaining that they have begun the process of joining an alliance, or at least, getting the airline in a position in the next three years to be invited.

This means that they will be evaluating all areas of the carrier, from planes to soft product, to IT infrastructure and their loyalty frequent flyer program.

Hainan Airlines
A Hainan Airlines Boeing 787 in flight

It is yet unclear why they would want to join an alliance, as it would mean they would be unable to compete with several other members who fly to their country on routes. They would also be limited in expanding into whichever alliance members have territory. But in return for accessing a bigger world market, Hainan Airlines would be able to provide penetration into China for these alliances, something that is becoming increasingly lucrative.

Plus, remember that they need to be invited and sponsored to join an alliance. Who will sponsor them and why would an alliance want them still is up in the air at this point.

Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines business class

Which alliance will they join?

But of the three major air alliances, Skyteam, One World, Star Alliance, which would Hainan Airlines actually join?

It all depends on who is already part of the alliance, specifically or, who might veto Hainan Airlines from joining.

  • Skyteam – China Eastern is a member of Skyteam and would not be very happy if Hainan Airlines joined this alliance. However, they recently had China southern on board as well, and they recently left, so potentially there is an opening on board.
  • Star Alliance – Air China, one of Hainan Airline’s rivals, is a member of Star Alliance and very well might veto them joining.
  • One World – There is no Chinese airline in One World, but plenty of foreign airlines that might veto Hainan Airlines from joining. Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong based airline, might veto a nearby rival from joining.

It also depends on the routes that Hainan Airlines operates. If they fly too heavily and frequently into a certain port, it is unlikely that they will be invited, or accept reducing flights there for one of the existing members.

Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines route map.

If we were to hazard a guess, we would say that One World might be the most open prospect for Hainan Airlines to join. That is if China Southern doesn’t join first.

What do you think? Which air alliance should Hainan Airlines join? Let us know in the comments.