China Southern, the biggest carrier by both passenger volume and revenue in China, plans to leave the SkyTeam airline alliance in 2019. This could dramatically affect the way that Delta passengers in the United States earn and burn loyalty points in the region — but potentially have a positive impact for whomever China Southern eventually teams up with next.
On paper, the airline says that it’s leaving SkyTeam to “develop its own strategy,” which could mean that it’s heading off on its own to pursue ad hoc partnerships with whichever operator makes sense. Already, Emirates and Aer Lingus, two major carriers in the Middle East and Europe respectively, have proven the viability of this path.
What’s more likely, however, is that China Southern is leaving to pursue a relationship with Oneworld, the alliance in which both American Airlines and British Airways participate. Indeed, American already has a $200 million stake in the Chinese carrier while British Airways is working on an updated code-share agreement.
If the switch actually happens, Delta passengers in the United States will have one less airline to work with in the Asia region (though China Airlines and China Eastern are still in play) while American passengers will finally have a Oneworld alternative to Cathay Pacific. By 2019, though, the deck will surely be shuffled again.
— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor
Skift Stories and More Expert Insight
Travel Advisor Innovation Report: Virgin and Ritz Cruise Lines Have Brand Loyalty Hopes: Will Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Virgin Voyages, two high-end and newbie cruise lines, be able to attract passengers who have never chosen a cruise vacation? The two brands are counting on it.
China Southern Quits SkyTeam Airline Alliance: Asia’s biggest carrier is abandoning the SkyTeam airline alliance. China Southern Airlines Co. will exit the partnership in 2019, nearly two years after selling a minority stake to American Airlines Inc., which is a member of the rival Oneworld group.
This Startup Is Selling Fly-by-the-Hour Airline Gift Cards: This startup has the JetBlue Tech Ventures seal of approval, which means something in the travel space. But we’re not sure why consumers would rather receive a gift card for airplane hours, than a gift card worth cash.
FAA Blasts Newark Airport for How It Charges Airline Fees: A federal regulator slammed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, saying it doesn’t have a reasonable or transparent method for justifying the fees it charges airlines to use Newark Liberty International Airport, one of three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area.
These Are the 8 Best Premium Economy Airline Products in the World: Twenty years after international airlines such as UK-based Virgin Atlantic and Taiwan’s EVA Air introduced the premium economy concept, the section between coach and business class still represents fewer than 4 percent of seats in the sky.
Priority Pass Adds Another U.S. Restaurant Lounge — Here’s a List of All 28 of Them: With access to more than 1,200 lounges worldwide, Priority Pass has quite the network. Recently, the program has branched out and started to add offers and restaurants to its roster, letting members enjoy a true sit-down dining experience as part of their membership.
American Airlines: Our New Flight Attendants Lack the Training to Provide Good Service: At the most recent employee question-and-answer session with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, a flight attendant asked about the airline’s in-flight product. She hears from premium customers that the product United and Delta offer are better, and she worries because new American Airlines flight attendants aren’t getting training in service, and “half” of flight attendants don’t follow the service standards that do exist.
Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [email@example.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.