Qatar Airways announced Wednesday that it has completed the purchase of a 5% stake of China Southern Airlines as part of its investment strategy, which will expand network connectivity and travel opportunities all around the globe.

“Qatar Airways regards our shareholding in China Southern Airlines as an important part of our strategic investment in the largest airline in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets […] with massive potential for cooperation in the future.  The investment is a clear demonstration of Qatar Airways’ continued commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient,” said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO.

Qatar Airways already holds major stakes in Air Italy; LATAM; Cathay Pacific; and International Airlines Group, the holding company for British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and Level.

China Southern, on the other hand, is a majority shareholder of multiple regional Chinese airlines, including Xiamen Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, Jiangxi Air, and China Postal Airlines as well as of a couple of airport holdings. China Southern Group is the largest airline group in China and one of the largest in the world by the number of passengers carried.

China Southern Airlines is China’s only Airbus A380 operator with five aircraft in service.

It is worth pointing out that both airlines have recently been involved in fallouts with their respective alliances. While Qatar Airways has threatened to leave OneWorld multiple times over its ongoing dispute with founding member American Airlines, China Southern decided to part ways with SkyTeam as a step of its new strategic development.

Both airlines see global cooperations without restrictions from alliances as more promising than alliance partnerships for the future. This trend has also reached many other firm alliance members. For example, Lufthansa recently started codeshare agreements with Cathay Pacific and Etihad Airways.

The fleet of Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines currently includes more than 600 aircraft. The airline’s order book includes a total of 160 aircraft from the Airbus A320neo family and 80 Boeing 737 MAX planes in addition to widebody aircraft from both manufacturers.

Having suffered recent financial and political setbacks, Qatar Airways currently operates 225 aircraft, including ten Airbus A380s, from its hub Doha. The airline was the launch customer of the Airbus A350 and expects to operate 70 of the type in total. Qatar Airways also has 60 Boeing 777X and 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order as well as 50 Airbus A321neo jets.

All images by Alexander Stahl / Aeronautics Online

Categories: Industry Talk