China Southern Airlines is the largest airline company in China. Their transportation services have been utilized by many industries. For decades, Chinese Southern Airlines has been the primary choice for passenger and cargo transportation out of China. However, their lack of care toward international law and ethics has resulted in a large-scale controversy and a dramatic loss of reputation. This paper will provide an overview of this controversy and how the company resolved it.
The first instance of China Southern Airlines facing issues due to their business practices occurred in 2012 when the company was fined $14,438 by the United States Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act. This fine was issued due to 16 monkeys dying during a cargo flight because of a lack of food, water and veterinary care that they experienced. However, the company did not stop their monkey shipments and continued to perform them illegally. The monkeys were transported as laboratory animals, and due to the controversial nature of animal testing, coupled with the mistreatment by China Southern Airlines, the company received a significant amount of negative attention. In 2013 the company was fined once more for $11,600 for the violation of the same act. These violations attracted a lot of attention from the public and NGOs such as PETA and Cruelty Free International. PETA launched a series of protests against the company in 2014. In addition, the organization purchased a stock of China Southern Airlines with the purpose of using their shareholder position to change corporate policy. The organization temporarily stopped the shipment of primates but attempted to covertly resume it at a later date. However, NGOs were informed about this issue, and it became public. The reputation of the company reached a new low by 2015 and was left without a plausible recovery plan for the time being. However, in 2017, the management of the company made a decision to dedicate its efforts to animal conservation. By going directly against their previous history, the company aims to recover its reputation internationally.
The first step that China Southern Airlines took towards animal conservation was the ban on shark fin transportation which was a common, yet controversial cargo that the company previously transported. The practice of gathering shark fins involves a lot of animal cruelty, and more than half of all international airlines chose to ban its transportation. The company is located in Guangzhou, which is one of the main exporters of shark fins internationally. Despite the recent fall in shark fin prices, the company still exported more than half of all fins in the world, which means that China Southern Airlines is actively abandoning the profits that are estimated to be in multiple millions of dollars. However, it may be beneficial to the company in the long run.
China Southern Airlines is a large company which suffered greatly due to its disregard of international law. Their involvement in primate transportation caused a number of very effective campaigns against the company, which left it with a tarnished reputation. The recent efforts of recovery may be a step in the right direction. By banning shark fin transportation, the company is abandoning millions of dollars in profits, but at the same time, it avoids all the issues related to the cruel treatment of animals. This move holds additional meaning due to the location of the company in the area where the majority of shark fins are manufactured. It is likely that in the near future, the company will be able to regain a portion of its reputation.