MIAMI – As of January 1st, 2020, Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines has officially departed the SkyTeam Alliance. The airline had stated that it had completed all transitional duties on December 31st, 2019.

China Southern is the biggest airline in China measured by passengers carried. It is also owner of SkyTeam member, Xiamen Air.

The Guangzhou-based carrier said in November 2018 that it would be leaving the alliance on January 1, 2019, to focus on seeking alliances with other carriers outside of SkyTeam.

“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,” said the airline in a statement.

Photo: Joe G Walker

Although the airline is no longer a part of the alliance, through bilateral cooperation, China Southern will retain its codeshare partnerships with its existing SkyTeam partners, and that it will also keep the Sky Pearl Club frequent flyer program and its benefits for customers.

The airlines that China Southern has codeshares with through the SkyTeam Alliance are Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines.

Also, from January 1st, China Southern discontinued its service brand of SkyPriority and has renamed it to CZ Priority.

CZ Priority will ensure that the privileges of all China Southern Gold and Silver cardholders, as well as Elite and Elite Plus members of the above SkyTeam partner airlines, will remain unchanged.

This means that those passengers will still have access to priority check-in, priority luggage drop-off, priority boarding and access to the VIP lounges when they fly with China Southern.

Alongside China Southern’s SkyTeam partner airlines, the airline is rapidly growing what it calls its “global circle of friends” by establishing bilateral codeshare partnerships with the following airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Qatar Airways. 

Recently, back in mid-December 2019, China Southern and the United Kingdom’s flag carrier, British Airways, had announced a Joint Business Agreement (JBA) that began on January 2nd, 2020.

This new JBA has enabled both airlines to work together on ticket pricing to enhance both of their networks and also, passengers can utilize their frequent flyer benefits and increased connectivity. 

This JBA announcement comes after both airlines signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) back in 2019, where both of the operators agreed to expand the already existing codeshare that originally started in 2017 and included frequent flyer benefits.

Photo: Clément Alloing

China Southern currently has a large fleet of 626 aircraft, broken down as; 14 Airbus A319s, 147 A320s, 127 A321s, 46 A330s, six A350 XWBs, five A380s, 212 Boeing 737s, two 747s, 27 777s, 25 787 Dreamliners and 15 Embraer E190s.

The airline still has multiple large orders placed with Boeing, Airbus and Comac for new aircraft. These are the Boeing 737 MAX 8, 777-300ER, 787-9 Dreamliner, 777 Freighter, Comac C919, Airbus A320neo, A321neo, and the Airbus A350-900.