The carrier, which is based in southeast China’s Fujian province and owned by Guangzhou-based China Southern, becomes the alliance’s 19th member and its sixth in Asia Pacific. It also becomes SkyTeam’s third full member in mainland China, following China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, giving SkyTeam the strongest Chinese coverage of any airline alliance. The presence of China Airlines, along with Xiamen Airlines, also gives SkyTeam a strong presence in the fast-expanding cross-Strait market between China and Taiwan.
“Today we… strengthen SkyTeam’s footprint in China,” said Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam’s managing director. “Greater China remains a priority region for our alliance. Xiamen Airlines will join our members China Southern, China Eastern and China Airlines in developing customer-focused initiatives for the region.”
Xiamen Airlines currently operates domestic and cross-Strait routes from its three hubs – Xiamen, Fuzhou and Hangzhou. It also operates international flights to Singapore, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.
It plans to expand further however, with flights to Europe, North America and Australasia due to commence in 2014, following the delivery of its six Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“Membership of SkyTeam will enable us to deliver enhanced customer benefits as we diversify and grow our network and this is key to the success of our new international routes,” said Che Shanglun, president & CEO of Xiamen Airlines. “Our passengers can anticipate exciting new destinations while we look forward to a future of cooperation with our alliance partners.”