Qatar Airways acquires 5% stake in China Southern Airlines

Investment makes airline second foreign stakeholder in the mainland carrier

A China Southern Airlines plane is parked at Ho Chi Minh international airport October 28, 2017.   Picture taken October 28, 2017.   REUTERS/Thomas White
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Qatar Airways purchased a five per cent stake in China Southern Airlines in a move to gain a foothold in the fast-growing Chinese aviation market, the latest in a string of global airline stake acquisitions.

The carriers intend to deepen their ties in future, Qatar Airways said in a statement on Wednesday, without providing details. The investment makes Qatar Airways the second foreign stakeholder in the mainland carrier after American Airlines and its fourth biggest shareholder.

“China Southern Airlines is one of the most prestigious airlines in the Chinese domestic market and an important market player in the world, with massive potential for cooperation in the future,” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways group chief executive, said. “There are opportunities for us to work together and build a long term relationship.”

The acquisition follows its strategy of investing in minority stakes in global airlines that has seen it buy a 20 per cent stake in British Airways parent company IAG, 10 per cent in South America’s largest carrier LatAm, 49 per cent in Air Italy, and nearly 10 per cent in Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific.


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China is expected to surpass the US as the world’s biggest aviation market in the next five years, according to projections by industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The  Doha-based government-controlled carrier has been increasingly seeking new routes and partnerships after its home state was banned from flying into or over the airspace of key markets of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain. The ban has led some Qatar Airways flights to be scrapped and forced others to divert. The four countries have imposed a boycott on Qatar since June 2017.