In a shocking move, China Southern Airlines has announced the carrier is poised to quit SkyTeam alliance with effect from January 1, 2019. The Guangzhou-based carrier is one of the world's top 10 biggest airlines and is currently in the same airline alliance as Chinese rivals China Eastern Airlines and XiamenAir alongside major carriers the likes of Delta Air Lines, KLM, Air France, Korean Air and more.

While it may seem a little surprising that China Southern Airlines is pulling the plug and leaving SkyTeam alliance behind, the airline has made it clear that it is looking to establish new partnerships with airlines worldwide, promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation in addition to offering top-notch quality service to passengers globally.

For those who do not already know, American Airlines - a Oneworld alliance member airline - bought a minor stake worth US$200 million in China Southern Airlines last year. It comes as no surprise that with the Chinese carrier announcing its split from SkyTeam alliance, American Airlines has stepped forward to voice its excitement over China Southern Airlines' decision.

In particular, American Airlines is thrilled as this presents a wonderful opportunity for American Airlines and China Southern Airlines to further expand their relationship in the months and years to come. This is especially so since Beijing Daxing International Airport is set to open next year and American Airlines is looking forward to cooperating fully with China Southern Airlines. The Chinese travel market is booming and American Airlines is more than happy to grow its slice of the pie. At present, both carriers have already launched a reciprocal codeshare agreement in 2018.

While China Southern Airlines has not confirmed if it would eventually join Oneworld alliance, or if that option would even be possible since Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways may not allow China Southern Airlines to be part of Oneworld alliance as both carriers have extremely close home bases, it remains to be seen what implications could crop up when the New Year rolls around. Besides American Airlines, China Southern Airlines also has partnership with another Oneworld member airline, British Airways.

Denise Bay is a staff writer at Email: