China Southern A380: Wiki Commons photo by Sergey Kustov

Buried in the statements made by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce about the much foreshadowed code-share with China Southern announced today is a claimed relationship with Cathay Pacific.

Seriously? That’s like the relationship between a prisoner (Qantas) and a jailer (Cathay Pacific). Both airlines may have Oneworld in common but Cathay Pacific despises Qantas, has ridiculed and lawfully obstructed its perpetually delayed attempts to start a Jetstar Hong Kong venture, and run rings around in it the Australia-Hong Kong market.

And while the China Southern code share makes much sense in principle, it is limited in its application, and doesn’t extend to the so called Canton route to London by which the Guangzhou centric China flag carrier is cutting the price floor from under the feet of Qantas-Emirates on the kangaroo route via Dubai.

Between China Southern and Cathay Pacific one has to ask how with ‘partners’ like these will it fend off its competitors or grow the presence of the self shrunken Australian brand.

This is the China Southern statement:

China Southern Airlines is pleased to announce the signing of an historic commercial agreement with Qantas Airways that will open Australasia to the ever growing Chinese travel market.

The agreement includes codeshare flights and expands travel opportunities for passengers on China Southern flights into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to fly on the Qantas domestic network to seven Australian destinations including Cairns, Adelaide and Canberra.

Qantas passengers can fly with China Southern from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to its main hub of Baiyun International Airport Guangzhou then onward to four major Chinese destinations – Xiamen, Kunming, Fuzhou and Urumqi. 

The two airlines have also agreed to investigate other areas of potential cooperation, including pilot training assistance from Qantas and cargo opportunities.

“The signing of this Agreement between China Southern and Qantas Airways blazes a new and exciting trail for our two companies,” said China Southern Airlines Chairman Si Xianmin.

“We welcome this move because it will give our passengers greater access to Australia and will also open up Australian tourism to a leisure and business market that is growing by nearly 20 per cent a year.”

Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said he was “very pleased to have China Southern as a partner in the world’s fastest growing aviation market”.

“This is great news for the increasing number of Qantas customers travelling to China for business and leisure because it simplifies their journey and opens new destinations,” Mr Joyce said.

A proud member of SkyTeam, China Southern now serves five destinations in Australasia – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland.  This new agreement will allow China Southern’s inbound passengers from China to fly to varied destinations within Australia with Qantas.

For Australian passengers, this will be an opportunity to experience the exceptional flight service of China Southern when flying to China and transiting to beyond destinations.

China Southern recently began a new Airbus A380 service between Guangzhou and Sydney, and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to and from Auckland as part of the consolidation its celebrated Canton Route to the world.

Today’s agreement with Qantas is a major new step in China Southern’s development of the Australian marketplace.  The new codeshare services are expected to be available for booking and travel from early 2014.

Meanwhile government waits for a concise and well argued submissions from Qantas to exactly what it now wants in relation to the competition it is getting from Virgin Australia, since Mr Joyce has ruled out a need for changes to the Qantas Sale Act and shows no appetite for a year long public debate about whether or how the poorly managed company should be propped up.

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