Today, Qatar Airways Group announced its on-market purchase of shares in China Southern Airlines Company Ltd., amounting to roughly 5 percent of the carrier’s total issued share capital.
This new investment follows Qatar Airway’s fellow Oneworld member American Airlines’ own investment in China Southern in March 2017, when the U.S. carrier acquired a 2.76 percent stake in the Chinese Mainland carrier. The recent investments by American Airlines and Qatar Airways appear to herald China Southern’s exit from the Skyteam Cargo Alliance, which was announced in November 2018, and went into effect on Tuesday.
China Southern Airlines is now expected to join the Oneworld alliance, as it seeks to strengthen its competitive edge against China Eastern Airlines – another China-based carrier and Skyteam alliance member, invested in by Delta Air Lines for a 3.55 percent stake in 2015.
At Oneworld, however, not all is calm, since Qatar Airways again voiced its dissatisfaction being part of the alliance last October. Should Qatar leave the alliance, it is uncertain whether the action could influence Oneworld cargo operations, as Qatar now maintains a larger stake in China Southern than does American Airlines.
One things is clear, though – Qatar Airways’ new investment in China Southern further supports the Middle Eastern carriers’ global investment strategy, which already includes its 20 percent stake in International Airlines Group, its 10 percent ownership of LATAM Airlines Group, its 49 percent purchase ofAir Italy, and its 9.99 percent investment in Cathay Pacific.