According to a report from the South China Morning Post, OneWorld CEO Rob Gurney revealed the airline alliance had spoken to China Southern representatives, but not in formal discussions for the carrier to join the airline alliance.

Gurney also stated that the interactions took place before China Southern announced its departure from SkyTeam, though his statement only adds to more speculation it would join OneWorld.

“There are no formal discussions underway with China Southern,” Gurney said, despite the alliance’s obvious lack of presence in mainland China, the world’s second-biggest air travel market, unlike the rival Skyteam and Star Alliance groups.” Gurney added: “There are still areas where we can potentially deepen our coverage, there is no doubt about that. We are talking to potential members to help meet some of that.”

While OneWorld has 13 global airline members, its Chinese market is limited though founding member Cathay Pacific is based in Hong Kong. Regarding the possibility of China Southern based in Guangzhou and Cathay Pacific together from the same region, Gurney stated: “We haven’t spoken to them [China Southern Airlines] since it has happened. And you know we have got a fantastic partner in Cathay Pacific, a Chinese airline, and they remain really important to us.”

Both Cathay Pacific and China Southern offer travelers connecting options for long-haul travelers, with both carriers based within the Pearl River Delta 119 kilometers (79 miles) apart.

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