China Eastern Airlines is set to decide which major world airline alliance it will join in the next week or so, according to China
Liu Shaoyong, chairman of China Eastern – one of the country’s three major carriers – said the airline will make the final decision around the Spring Festival, February 14, this year.
This is a major decision.
The other two major Chinese airlines, namely Air China and China Southern Airlines, are members of Star Alliance and Skyteam
respectively. Membership of a passenger alliance gives the possibility of sharing assets such as sales offices, maintenance and operational facilities, bringing cost reductions for carriers. Star alliance, Skyteam and Oneworld are three largest passenger alliances in the world.
The alliance could provide an extended and optimized network through code sharing agreements. The theoretical benefits for travelers include possible lower prices, shorter travel times and faster mileage rewards although these are much lessened since the financial crunch.
Almost all major airlines in the world are participants of alliances. The situation is slightly complex in that China Eastern announced a merger plan with Shanghai Airlines last July.
Shanghai Airlines is currently a member of Star Alliance. It will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern but will retain its brand and independent operation. A senior Asian airline official said that is quite possible, but unlikely, China Eastern would take a different direction to its new subsidiary.
China Daily reported that Ma Xulun, general manager of China Eastern told China Business News that the market departments of the two carriers will merge into one this month while the merging of maintenance and engineering departments, ground service departments and information technology departments are on the way.