Qatar Airways has announced on Wednesday that it has acquired a 5% stake in China Southern Airlines in order to gain access to China’s fast-growing market. The airline, which is currently the biggest airline in China, has big ambitions. China Southern Airlines has chosen to become independent from any alliance in order to reach its lofty goals.

China, a fast-growing market

Air transportation is growing at an extremely fast pace in China, thanks to the country’s 400-million strong middle class which is spending billions on domestic and international vacations. According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association), China will overtake the US as the world’s largest aviation market by 2023.

“China Southern Airlines is one of the most prestigious airlines in the Chinese domestic market and an important market player in the world,” said Qatar Airways’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a statement.

In a separate statement, China Southern, which left the Skyteam airline alliance, said Qatar Airways may consider increasing its stake into China’s largest airline within the next 12 months.

Qatar Airways investments

The Qatari airline has been looking for new partners and new destinations after being imposed a land, sea and air blockade by a quartet of countries led by Saudi Arabia since June 2017.

The acquisition of 5% of China Southern Airlines is Qatar Airways‘s first major investment in mainland China. Qatar Airways also owns 20% of International Consolidated Airlines Group, parent company of British Airways, 10% of LATAM Airlines, 49% of the Air Italy and 9.99% of Cathay Pacific based in Hong Kong. Thanks to all these investments, Qatar Airways, which is currently part of Oneworld alliance, could well create its own alliance.

Every day, 14,250 Qatar Airways take off from the airline’s 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries.

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