British Airways and China Southern Airlines have signed a joint business agreement that offers a greater choice of flights, more destinations between the UK and China, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits from January 2.
The agreement allows the two airlines to cooperate on scheduling and pricing, meaning customers get more flexible flight options and a larger range of fares.
Customers will initially benefit from code-sharing on all direct flights operated on mainland routes between London and the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan and Zhengzhou. The network will develop over time thanks to the move of both airlines to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, with customers initially benefiting from 31 direct flights a week between London and the six Chinese destinations.
Alex Cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “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.”
Customer benefits will include more opportunities to collect frequent flyer points and access to both carriers’ web or app-based platforms to make bookings. Other benefits include lounge access and products and services from both markets, on board and on the ground.
The move follows the 2017 launch by British Airways and China Southern Airlines of a codeshare agreement across ten routes. Two years later, in January 2019, the airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the agreement on both of their networks and implement reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.
In October 2019, British Airways became the first international airline to move all its operations to Beijing Daxing International Airport, in recognition of the importance of driving travel between China and the UK.
Codesharing has grown in importance to China Southern Airlines since it decided not to renew its Skyteam airline alliance contract from January 2019. The Chinese national carrier has codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Finnair and Emirates. Last year, Qatar bought a 5 per cent stake in the carrier.
Speaking to Business Traveller in summer 2019 at the launch of China Southern’s Heathrow-Zhengzhou route, the airline’s account manager for the UK and Ireland said: “Leaving Skyteam was mainly to do with Daxing airport. 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