China Southern Airlines wants to become the world’s biggest carrier in the next three years and does not plan to seek an alliance with any of the industry’s major groups before 2021.
Instead, the Guangzhou-based airline has opted for tie-ups with a handful of major carriers after quitting Skyteam, one of the big three clubs that most established airlines opt to join.
Wu Guoxiang, China Southern’s senior vice-president for international and corporate relations, said it would stay independent “maybe for a few years”, speaking on the sidelines of the CAPA Centre for Aviation CEO summit in Seoul last week.
“I think it is important to build bilateral cooperation with every carrier that we want, for us to grow, we are the largest carrier in Asia,” he said. “In three to five years we will be the largest in the world. We need the flexibility to cooperate the way we want.”
China Southern has struck a number of partnerships with Oneworld carriers since going it alone, including with British Airways, Finnair, and American Airlines (AA), which paid US$200 million (HK$1.56 billion) for a 2.76% stake in March 2017.
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