China is still a hotbed for aviation, but Southwest Airlines (NYSE:SAL) is already looking to expand in the country.
In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company announced that it has bought a controlling interest in Chinese-language airline Southwest Airlines, with an eye to launching flights to Beijing by the end of 2020.
In addition to Chinese customers, Southwest also said that it intends to launch flights to Istanbul, Cairo, Dubai and Hong Kong, and will invest $100 million in the project.
Southwest will begin operations in the China region in 2021.
It will be the second Chinese airline to make a move into the Chinese market, following China Airlines Group (NASDAQ:CAC), which bought a 15.5% stake in the airline in 2014.
Southwest is now the third-largest airline in China, trailing China Southern Airlines (NASD:CSL) and Lufthansa.
As part of the transaction, Southwest will retain a majority stake in Southwest China Airlines, which will be headquartered in Beijing.
The two companies are working to expand Southwest’s services to the Chinese markets, as well as to expand its operations in Asia.
In March, Southwest said it planned to expand flights to 10 destinations in China by 2020.
The company will also expand its service to 10 new destinations in the Middle East and Africa by 2020, the airline said in a press release.
Southwest’s new deal with Chinese airlines is the latest in a string of acquisitions by the company.
In July, Southwest announced it had acquired Chinese airline Hong Kong Airlines (HLN), and in March, it announced that its Chinese subsidiary, Cairn, would join its China Airline Group.