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January 24, 2012 / oneworld82

Hainan Airlines – A fast growing (premier) airline

Many people may have not heard of Hainan Airlines – after all, more and more airlines populate the crowded Chinese arena these days. Yet, Hainan Airlines shines as the only Chinese carrier to be awarded the prestigious “Five Stars” by Skytrax – by now THE established World authority on airline rankings.

The meteoric rise of Hainan as a top international carrier is bringing up the question of the direction that airlines in China are taking. Hainan Airlines is the biggest Chinese carriers not owned by the Central government (even though the Hainan province government owns 48+% of the company), the 4th biggest mainland carrier overall. While Air China, Souther China Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines are bigger both in terms of passengers and fleet size, it’s by far considered the airline with the best service – the 3 other carriers being only rated 3-star by Skytrax.

Hainan Airlines was recently brought into the spotlight by its codeshare agreement with American Airlines – the two airlines will cooperate on the PEK – SEA flight and AA will put its AA code on that flight and on onwards connection into mainland China while Hainan Airlines will put its code on connecting AA flights out of Seattle. Rumors from the streets indicate that Hainan is pushing to become the next oneworld member – the first mainland Chinese carrier to join the alliance should that happen. Hainan joining oneworld would give a deeper network in China to oneworld customers, which today can only rely on Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair to reach cities within the Popular Republic of China. Yet, Cathay Pacific may not like Hainan’s competition in what the Hong Kong-based carrier consider its natural backyard. Increased competition could push revenues down, and rumors said CX is ready to leave oneworld should any mainland China carrier join oneworld.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

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