China Southern Airlines, the biggest airline company in Asia in terms of total passengers carried and fleet size, announced on November 15 that it has decided not to renew its contract with SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, as of 1 January 2019.
The company said in an announcement that it will "strengthen cooperation with global leading airlines such as AA (American Airlines), further mutual as well as bilateral cooperations, and build up new partnerships".
American Airlines agreed in March 2017 to acquire a minority stake in China Southern Airlines for USD 200 million, cementing a partnership between the top carriers in the U.S. and Asia. American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance.
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-end.
A SkyTeam release mentioned that "China Southern’s decision reflects its strategic development, the changing trends of the global aviation industry and the evolution of alliances."
Kristin Colvile, SkyTeam CEO, said: “Network has always been the foundation of SkyTeam. 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.”