Hainan Airlines plans to join a global alliance and will start talks with Star, SkyTeam and oneworld soon, a source from the Chinese carrier told ATWOnline on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Berlin.
"So far, we still haven't had formal talks with any airline alliance, but definitely we would [like to] select one suitable for us," the source said. It is widely speculated that Hainan will join oneworld, but oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch noted at the AGM that the alliance is not in negotiations with Hainan and is considering its options in China. He also hinted that Cathay Pacific Airways could be Hainan's sponsor if the Haikou-based carrier reached a future membership agreement.
Hainan held negotiations with oneworld in 2006, but the talks failed owing to the carrier's weak profitability at the time. Air China is a member of Star, China Southern Airlines is in SkyTeam and China Eastern Airlines has reached an agreement to join SkyTeam (ATWOnline, May 24). That leaves oneworld as the only alliance without a mainland Chinese member. "China is a big market and we are disappointed with China Eastern's decision" to join SkyTeam, McCulloch said. "But what we have to understand is that oneworld was already well positioned in the Chinese market before China Eastern's decision. We already have strong connections to China through Cathay Pacific [Airways] and its subsidiary Dragonair." 
SOURCE: atwonline.com
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