Second-biggest Chinese carrier to join SkyTeam alliance


China Eastern Airlines Corp, the nation’s second-biggest carrier, will join the SkyTeam airline grouping, rejecting proposals from Oneworld and Star Alliance, according to sources.

The carrier will announce the decision this week, said the executives, who declined to be identified before an official release. Liu Jiangbo, a China Eastern spokeswoman, said an announcement will be made on April 16. She declined to comment on which alliance the carrier plans to join.

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Joining SkyTeam would enable China Eastern to gain access to 13,133 daily flights operated by group members including Air France-KLM, China Southern Airlines Co, Delta Air Lines Inc and Korean Air Lines Co.

The Shanghai-based carrier would also help its new partners expand in East Asia after SkyTeam failed to lure Japan Airlines away from Oneworld.

“More cooperation like code-sharing will help ticket sales,” said Kelvin Lau, an analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research in Hong Kong. “Indeed, Chinese airlines should make even more use of alliances.”

Air China Ltd, the nation’s largest international airline, is a member of Star, alongside Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Singapore Airlines Ltd and UAL Corp’s United Airlines.

Japan Air in February rejected a Delta-led proposal to join SkyTeam after Oneworld members American Airlines and British Airways offered to increase cooperation.