Qatar Airways is expanding its global airline shareholdings by taking a stake in China Southern Airlines.

The move to acquire 5% of the Chinese mainland’s biggest carrier is part of a strategy to invest in the strongest airlines around the world and continue enhancing operations and network connectivity, according to the Gulf airline.

The deal was agreed for an undisclosed sum.

It further supports Qatar Airways’ investments which include 20% of British Airways owner International Airlines Group, 10% in the South American LATAM Airlines Group, 49% of Air Italy and 9.99% in Cathay Pacific.

Qatar Airways chairman Ali Shareef Al Emadi said: “Qatar Airways regards our shareholding in China Southern Airlines as an important part of our strategic investment in the largest airline in one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets.”

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker added: “China Southern Airlines is one of the most prestigious airlines in the Chinese domestic market and an important market player in the world, with massive potential for cooperation in the future.

“Given the complementary strengths and resources of each of China Southern Airlines and Qatar Airways, there are opportunities for us to work together and build a long term relationship in ways that would bring benefits to customers of both airlines.

“The investment is a clear demonstration of Qatar Airways’ continued commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient.

“Qatar Airways very much looks forward to the opportunity to deepen our working relationship with this great airline and further enhance the travel opportunities across the globe.”