Chinese carriers see no regional conflict within SkyTeam

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Three carriers from the Greater China region within the SkyTeam alliance will not lead to greater competition, but co-operation among them, say the members.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines joined SkyTeam in 2007, while Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines selected the alliance earlier this year and Taiwan's China Airlines signed a letter of intent for membership today.

"With globalisation, there is a greater need for airlines to join alliances. If you want to have a signicant market share in the Greater China market, and the global market, you must join hands as co-operation will bring greater benefits against the competition. You can't go it alone nowadays," says China Southern chairman Si Xianmin.

"We are one of those who introduced China Airlines to SkyTeam as we knew that they would benefit the group. China Eastern and China Southern welcome them to the alliance - we were partners before, and now we are like brothers."

Leo van Wijk, chairman of the SkyTeam board, adds that having the three airlines in the same alliance makes sense as they are complementary.

"Nobody asks us about Europe, where we have five members serving a smaller population. The market is growing rapidly in the Greater China region, and each airline brings its own strengths. There is more than enough space for all three to grow and help each other as well," he adds.

China Airlines' chairman, Philip Wei, adds that the carrier is already the largest for cross-straits passenger and cargo traffic, and the alliance will help to boost Taipei as a regional hub.

"Our plan is to deepen our co-operation with China Southern and China Eastern, as well as other Asian carriers in SkyTeam like Korean Air," he adds.