Update | Qantas and China Southern have confirmed they will enter a limited codeshare alliance effective from early 2014.
Previous | Speculation is mounting that Qantas may add China Southern to its list of partners as the Flying Kangaroo seeks to fill the Chinese gap in its network.
The tie-up would reportedly take the form of a codeshare agreement which would see China Southern's flights able to be booked and sold within Australia as a Qantas flight carrying a QF flight number.
It could also allow travellers to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer status credits and points on eligible China Southern flights, along with reciprocal perks such as lounge access.
Qantas currently has only one flight into China, in the form of its daily Sydney-Shanghai service, although the Qantas Group continues to work on the launch of Jetstar Hong Kong with partner China Eastern.
Earlier this year, in a media briefing following Qantas' 2012-2013 financial results, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce observed that "our Asia strategy is not a 'big bang', there isn't a single big deal that will solve the issues".
"There isn't an Asian 'silver bullet', there's no single carrier like Emirates" he expanded. "You have to work individual markets and work with the best players in each market."
China Southern's hub of Guangzhou is the country's third-largest city and sits at the heart of the southern manufacturing region, as well as being home to the massive twice-yearly Canton Trade Fair.
The airline has been steadily increasing its Australian flights and in October introduced a daily Airbus A380 as one of its two daily Sydney-Guangzhou services.
China Southern is also promoting its Canton Route from Australia to London, Paris and Amsterdam via Guangzhou as an alternative to the Kangaroo Route, with competitive fares undercutting those of major airlines by as much as 30% – although the airline admits that it needs to lift its oft-criticised levels of service.
Joyce's previous push into Asia centred on a multimillion dollar investment in creating a new premium airline, codenamed Red Q, which was to be based in either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, although the plans were shelved in November 2011.
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