British Airways and China Southern have signed a joint business agreement that will deepen their cooperation.
The airlines have codeshared on ten routes since 2017, which expanded to further routes and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits in January 2019.
The joint venture means the airlines will also work together on things like scheduling, pricing, marketing and customer service.
They will initially codeshare on all direct flights on routes between London and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan and Zhengzhou, a total of 31 flights a week. This will expand to both airlines’ domestic networks.
British Airways has switched its Heathrow-Beijing service to the new Daxing International airport, where China Southern was given 40 per cent of slots along with fellow state-owned carrier China Eastern.
China Southern has been eyeing Heathrow slots it could use for flights to Beijing for some time.
Partnerships have become increasingly important to the airline since it quit the Skyteam alliance last year.
Qatar Airways bought a five per cent stake in the airline earlier this year.
“Leaving Skyteam was mainly to do with Daxing airport,” China Southern’s Account Manager for the UK and Ireland, told Business Traveller earlier this year at the launch of its Heathrow-Zhengzhou route.
“The alliance partners could not help us fulfil capacity for that because they were tied up with ventures elsewhere. We wanted to create new joint ventures to add the capacity we would like into that airport.”
The airline is using the capacity afforded by Daxing to focus on operations to Europe and the US, while its hub in Guangzhou, in the south of China, will focus on Asia-Pacific.
It has a fleet of more than 850 aircraft, the third biggest in the world behind American and United, and is aiming to have 1,000 aircraft by 2021.
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz commented on the announcement:
“We are delighted to announce this joint business which will bring the UK and China closer together by providing British Airways and China Southern Airlines customers with a wide range of benefits.
“The agreement reinforces our commitment to boost tourism and business travel between the two countries and we look forward to strengthening the relationship further.”