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UK-China aviation: BA expands China Southern codeshare

British Airways and China Southern Airlines have signed an MoU to expand their codeshare agreement and implement reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. This throws the spotlight on the market between the UK – Europe's largest aviation market – and China – the largest in Asia.

UK-China seat capacity is set to grow by 18% year-on-year in summer 2019 and will have doubled over five years. By contrast, BA's capacity will be down versus five years ago, following its withdrawal from Chengdu in 2017 (a route to be relaunched by Air China in Apr-2019)

The number of airlines operating UK-China is now nine, with four having entered since summer 2017. Air China has a significant capacity lead over BA, a lead that will be further extended by an additional daily frequency on London Heathrow-Beijing this summer. The number of routes will be 14 in summer 2019, up from five two years ago, while BA has reduced from three to two since 2017.

The wider agreement between BA and China Southern may not be a reliable signal of China Southern's intentions towards oneworld, following its decision to leave SkyTeam. However, it is a signal of the importance of China to BA and a reminder that BA has more to do in this market.

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