China Southern Airlines has officially became the 11th full member of SkyTeam, making the alliance the first to welcome a carrier from the mainland of China.China is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and the addition of China Southern allows SkyTeam to provide its customers around the world with greater travel options to one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
With the addition of China Southern Airlines, SkyTeam now serves approximately 428 million annual passengers through a worldwide system of 16,400 daily flights covering 841 destinations in 162 countries. China Southern, with the most extensive airline route network in China, operates the largest and most advanced airline fleet in the country. The carrier is also widely recognized for its safety and customer service standards, and was honored with the Four-Star Flight Safety Award by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) in 2007 - the most prestigious award in safe flight operations in the Chinese aviation industry.
“We are excited to welcome China Southern Airlines, one of Asia’s largest and leading carriers, into our network,” said Leo van Wijk, chairman of the SkyTeam Governing Board. “This move allows us to offer our customers unparalleled access to the markets they want to reach. Offering the highest flight frequencies in China, China Southern’s membership strengthens the alliance’s position in serving the world’s fastest growing markets.”
The addition of China Southern also bolsters the alliance’s global hub network with the addition of New Baiyun International Airport, a well-positioned, modern hub in Guangzhou, and Beijing Capital International Airport. China Southern is the first carrier in China to operate its own terminal at Beijing Capital International Airport, China’s busiest hub.
“SkyTeam is known for its unrivaled global connectivity and as a member, we can better serve our customers, particularly as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach,” said Liu Shao Yong, Chairman of China Southern Airlines, at a welcome ceremony in Beijing. “China Southern’s extensive intra-Asia network serves as a powerful link in SkyTeam’s robust global network,” added Mr. Liu.
The welcome ceremony, which took place at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, was attended by Zeng Pei Yan, Vice Premier of the State Council of China; Liu Shao Yong, Chairman of China Southern Airlines; Yang Yuanyuan, Minister, General Administration of Civil Aviation of China; Leo van Wijk, SkyTeam Governing Board Chairman; as well as Yang Ho Cho, Chairman and CEO of Korean Air; and other SkyTeam representatives.
China Southern Airlines made significant progress and fulfilled all SkyTeam alliance membership requirements since signing a memorandum for membership in August 2004. The carrier earned recognition as a SkyTeam member airline after reaching a number of agreements with each of the alliance member carriers, including bilateral codeshare, frequent flyer and lounge agreements.
At the ceremony, China Southern Airlines recognized November 15 as Alliance Day. In celebrating their membership in SkyTeam, the airline offered a special gift to Chinese passengers (including those from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao) and citizens from the home countries of the other SkyTeam member airlines—those who were traveling with China Southern on November 15 and also happened to be celebrating a birthday on November 15 received a complimentary domestic or international ticket on the carrier.