The SkyTeam alliance is losing a carrier. China Southern Airlines (CSA) has announced its exit from the alliance after a 12-year membership. Ties will officially be severed on Jan. 1. China Southern is citing its desire to enhance global connectivity as its reason for leaving SkyTeam. What most analysts are taking that to mean is that China Southern would like to enter into some new partnerships with airlines belonging to other alliances.
News of China Southern's departure from SkyTeam doesn't exactly come as a shock. The carrier has been busy forming relationships with carriers belonging to oneworld alliance in recent months. In fact, China Southern has created partnerships with a total of six airlines belonging to oneworld. The list of airlines that China Southern has been getting friendly with includes British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways. China Southern also made some waves when it entered into a relationship with Emirates over the summer. Emirates is famously not associated with any airline alliance.
What does news of China Southern's exit from the SkyTeam alliance mean for customers? The airline will actually keep codeshare partnerships with many of the airlines that belong to the SkyTeam alliance after Jan. 1. This includes major carriers like Korean Air, Air France, Aerolineas Argentinas, Vietnam Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
In addition, China Southern is working on a new loyalty program that will fill in some of the gaps left by its exit from SkyTeam once it is launched. SkyTeam has set up a dedicated page that you can refer to regarding questions you may have as to how your tickets may be impacted.