China’s Hainan Airlines is assessing its chances for joining an alliance by 2022, managers have told staff members.

Work is underway to evaluate the prospects and how to achieve them within three years, according to a management document distributed to staff and seen by ATW. A spokesperson for the company said no information was available on which alliance the HNA carrier could join.

Hainan Airlines is China’s fourth-largest air carrier. The main airline and its affiliates constitute the country’s fourth-largest airline group.

The carrier’s attractiveness to the three major global alliances is unclear.

Beijing-based Air China belongs to the Star Alliance and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines is a SkyTeam member. Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines is leaving SkyTeam and appears to be a likely prospective member for oneworld, assuming founding members, such as Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways and Australia’s Qantas, can be persuaded to accept a second Chinese airline and the intra-alliance competition it would present.

Hainan Airlines would also compete with alliance members serving China. However, like China Southern, it would offer the connections of a domestic network.

Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com

Research by Ryan Wang