China Southern Airlines (CZ, Guangzhou) might leave the Skyteam alliance and join Oneworld, in turn prompting Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) to move from oneworld to Star Alliance, the South China Morning Post has reported.

According to newspaper sources, the Guangzhou-based carrier has internally reviewed the benefits of remaining a member of the current alliance vis-a-vis joining oneworld and is nearing the decision to move. In a televised interview, the company's president Tan Wan Geng further fueled rumours by announcing that China Southern Airlines is open to enhanced cooperation with American Airlines, a oneworld member airline.

In August, American Airlines finalised a purchase of 2.68% of China Southern's shares for around USD200 million.

If China Southern Airlines moves to oneworld alliance, it could then lead to Cathay Pacific leaving the alliance, the South China Morning Post added. The main hubs for these two airlines are only 120 kilometres apart which puts them into direct competition for the same passenger base. Cathay Pacific itself denies those rumours.

"Cathay Pacific is proud to be a founding member of oneworld, which has served the airline very well. We are committed to the alliance and will continue to work together with member airlines", the Hong Kong-based carrier said in a statement mailed to ch-aviation.

Air China, which holds 29.99% of Cathay Pacific's shares, is a member of Star Alliance. The Hong Kong-based airline also has code-share agreements with Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Air New Zealand and Air Canada, all members of Star Alliance. On the other hand, since November 2017 Qatar Airways, a oneworld member, has been the third largest shareholder in Cathay Pacific after purchasing 9.6% of shares.