British Airways & China Southern’s Interesting New Codeshare Agreement

Filed Under: British Airways, China Southern

Late last month I wrote about the interesting rumor that China Southern may be joining oneworld, while Cathay Pacific may be joining Star Alliance. Personally I think it’s highly unlikely that Cathay Pacific leaves oneworld and joins Star Alliance, even though Cathay Pacific’s second biggest shareholder is Air China, which is in the Star Alliance.

However, I think it’s a lot more likely that China Southern joins oneworld. They’re presently in SkyTeam, though American recently bought a stake in the airline, and they’ve generally been treated as the second rate Chinese airline after China Eastern, given that Delta has a stake in China Eastern.

Some have argued that oneworld couldn’t sustain airlines based in both Guangzhou and Hong Kong, given how close the cities are to one another. Personally I think Guangzhou and Hong Kong are very different markets despite how close they are to one another geographically. So while I think China Southern would love to join oneworld, I suspect this will come down to whether Cathay Pacific tries to veto them joining the alliance.

Anyway, while not necessarily indicative of China Southern leaving SkyTeam, I do find this development interesting. Not only have American and China Southern recently launched a codeshare agreement, but British Airways and China Southern have just announced a new codeshare agreement, impacting flights within the UK and China.

Per @airlineroute, the agreement kicks off in mid-December, and sees British Airways placing their code on a handful of domestic China Southern flights out of Beijing and Shanghai, and sees China Southern placing their code on a handful of domestic British Airways flights out of London.

I find this to be an interesting development, though in and of itself it’s not indicative of them leaving the alliance. For example, while Air Canada is a happy Star Alliance member (as far as I know), they have a codeshare arrangement with Virgin Australia in Australia and Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong, given that they don’t otherwise have much connectivity in those regions.

Given SkyTeam’s weakness in the UK, it could be that this is simply a reciprocal agreement to get more passengers on these flights.

However, in light of the China Southern oneworld rumors, I found this development to be even more interesting, as China Southern has ties with a growing number of oneworld airlines.

  1. Another Skyteam member in China, China Eastern also has codeshare agreement with British Airways. More over, China Eastern has codeshare agreement, FFP miles redemption/accumulation, reciprocal elite benefits with Qantas and Japan Airlines. It looks China Eastern is much more close to Oneworld than China Southern, although it would never join Oneworld given Delta’s investment in it.

  2. None of the China Southern codeshare flights are out of Guangzhou – it’s two from Beijing and three from Shanghai. BA doesn’t even fly to Guangzhou… written in a hurry?

  3. @Zippy

    Why? If it’s for connections there are more logical UA hubs to fly to. And there is only one airport that United flies to which it doesn’t already from ORD or SFO, so I highly doubt the potential connecting traffic to Fayetteville, NC is the reason to start this route for CX.

  4. If BA avios can redeem china southern, including china southern F class, that would be news. (Though its crazy to use avios to redeem longhaul F)

  5. “Given Skyteam’s weakness in the UK”

    I’m not sure that’s right. A lot of regional pax use KLM flights direct to Schipol, connecting there to longhaul and avoiding both BA and London.

    I don’t have pax numbers. But BA lists 25 UK airports served (though that includes all the hops between tiny Scottish Islands), whereas KLM lists no fewer than 18. It’s an impressive network. I often use it where there’s no direct BA flight: KLM serves my regional airport whereas BA does not.

    Don’t forget, for years before BA finally got into bed with Iberia (and Air France with KLM), we all expected a BA / KLM merger, such were the synergies. Continued gossip about the cultural mis-match between Air France and KLM suggests that it may have been better for KLM to stick with BA.

  6. Also take into account that KLM/AF/DL have started the procedure of taking over operational control in Virgin Atlantic and Virgin already has JV with DL (soon two Delta JVs will merge). It would be logical step for Virgin Atlantic to join SkyTeam along Jet Airways.

  7. FlyingFish:

    “its crazy to use avios to redeem longhaul F”

    I think it’s crazy not to. The best value for any mile redemtpions are usually in the premium cabins.

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