It has been rumored for a long time that China Southern might join the oneworld alliance.

Why China Southern may join oneworld

Five years is a long time for China Southern, the largest airline in China.

  • In 2017, American Airlines invested in China Southern, even though the airline belonged to the SkyTeam alliance
  • China Southern then left the SkyTeam alliance in 2019, after having been a member for 10 years; this came around the same time that Delta invested in SkyTeam member China Eastern, meaning there was little value remaining for China Southern to stay in the alliance
  • While China Southern hasn’t been in an alliance for the past few years, the airline has been increasingly aligning with oneworld airlines; not only do American Airlines and Qatar Airways have equity stakes in China Southern, but British Airways and Finnair also have commercial agreements with China Southern

We have the latest update. China Southern may join the oneworld alliance, according to Danny Lee. People familiar with the discussions say no decision has been made. In-person discussions about this have been prevented by China.

China was one of the fastest growing aviation markets. Skyteam and Star Alliance have multiple member airlines in mainland China, so it would be a huge asset for oneworld to have an airline there.

Since most of us won't be able to travel to China anytime soon, I can't say I'm invested in this one way or the other.

Could China Southern join oneworld?

The problem with China Southern joining oneworld

It seems like a net positive for China Southern to join the oneworld alliance despite being cut off from the rest of the world. More alliance airlines are better than less alliance airlines There's a big catch.

The oneworld alliance has veto rights over which airlines can join it. There are strong indications that China Southern isn't going to join the oneworld alliance. Guangzhou and Hong Kong are both under 100 miles from each other.

I don't think that Cathay Pacific had a change of heart since the beginning of the Pandemic. It is possible that China Southern could join as a oneworld connect member, but that is not worth much.

There has been a rumor for a long time that China Southern and Cathay Pacific would join oneworld. Air China is the second largest investor in Cathay Pacific, so it makes sense for the two airlines to work together. That also sheds light on why China Southern may not be in oneworld.

It is unlikely that Cathay Pacific will leave oneworld in the near future. I don't think China Southern will join the alliance.

I think that these will be continued discussions and not much will come of it. It's possible that China Southern will become a oneworld connect member.

I can’t imagine Cathay Pacific would be down for this

Bottom line

The possibility of China Southern joining the oneworld alliance is once again being discussed. Oneworld would benefit from having an airline in mainland China, but I think it would be a problem for the alliance if a competitor joined.

I don't think this will happen, but who knows...

Do you think China Southern will join oneworld?