LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - British Airways and China Southern Airlines have expanded their code-sharing deal with a view to boosting tourism between the two countries.
The two carriers said on Tuesday their new joint business agreement would enable them to cooperate more on scheduling and pricing, open up more destinations between the two countries and develop a combined route network from Beijing's new airport.
The pair, which have had a code-sharing deal since 2017, will now code-share on all direct flights operated between London and the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan and Zhengzhou.
Code-sharing allows two or more carriers to publish and advertise tickets on the same plane under different flight numbers, helping to reduce the number of empty seats on flights.
Alex Cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, part of the IAG group of airlines, said the deal would benefit customers.
"The agreement reinforces our commitment to boost tourism and business travel between the two countries and we look forward to strengthening the relationship further," he said in a statement.
China Southern also has a strategic partnership with American Airlines Group Inc.
American and British Airways are both members of the Oneworld group of airlines which China Southern could look to join after it said it would leave rival alliance SkyTeam in 2018.
Oneworld and SkyTeam are two of three global airline alliances that provide reciprocal benefits for passengers such as lounge usage and frequent flyer points and give airlines transfer passengers from partners in a boost to revenue. Star Alliance is the third. (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Jason Neely)