The SkyTeam global airline alliance will be reeling after China Southern Airlines revealed it would exit the network at the end of this calendar year. The Chinese carrier joined SkyTeam in 2007.
In a company update, China Southern said that “based on the needs of the company’s development strategy and to better align with the new trend of cooperation model in the global aviation industry, the company decided not to renew its SkyTeam Membership agreement from 1 January, 2019 and will complete the transition arrangements in 2019.”
The move is understood to be motivated by a tie-up with US carrier, American Airlines, which is part of the rival oneworld aviation alliance.
China Southern said that during the transition period, it will “work closely with SkyTeam on a cooperative process to ensure a sound transition for customers and partners.”
“The Company will explore the possibilities to establish new partnerships with advanced airlines around the world, promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation and provide quality services to passengers around the world.”
In a statement, SkyTeam said that 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’s end.
“Network has always been the foundation of SkyTeam,”said SkyTeam CEO Kristin Colvile.
“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.”
China Southern Airlines’ subsidiary, Xiamen Airlines, which is also part of the SkyTeam alliance, has no intention to split from the network, a spokesperson for the carrier said.
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