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Old March 20th, 2005, 07:49 PM   #281
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Lehman cuts profit views on China Southern, Eastern

HONG KONG, March 18 (Reuters) - Investment bank Lehman Brothers on Friday cut 2005-2006 earnings forecasts for China Southern Airlines (1055.HK) and China Eastern Airlines (0670.HK), citing higher jet fuel prices and lower yields.

The investment bank lowered 2005 and 2006 earnings forecasts on China Eastern by 47 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

It has also reduced earnings forecasts by 45 percent and 28 percent on China Southern for 2005 and 2006, respectively.

The earnings downgrades came after Lehman Brothers raised its average spot jet fuel price assumption for 2005 to US$50 per barrel, up 14 percent from its initial estimate.
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Old March 21st, 2005, 05:46 PM   #282
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Asia Pulse
March 18, 2005
China, India Agree to Increase Flights

To ensure adequate direct air connectivity, India and China agreed to substantially increase the number of flights and destinations between them.

After two days of bilateral air services talks here, the two sides agreed "to consider significant enhancement of traffic rights from the present level of seven flights per week...

There was also a need to increase the points of call in both countries which are presently restricted to two destinations as well as the number of intermediate and beyond points," an official spokes person said.

Following a "broad consensus" reached in the current round of talks, a formal agreement spelling out the details on various issues is likely to be finalised and signed during the ensuing visit to India of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao early next month.

The last round of bilateral talks were held almost eight years ago in May 1997.

While the Indian side was led by Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad, the visiting Chinese delegation was led by Yang Guoqing, Vice Minister, General Administration of Civil Aviation.
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Old March 21st, 2005, 07:27 PM   #283
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Air China says no plan to list in Shanghai this year
20 March 2005

BEIJING (AFX) - Chinese flag carrier Air China Ltd said it does not plan to offer yuan-denominated A-shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange this year.

'We have no plan to seek a domestic listing, at least not for this year,' an Air China official told XFN-Asia.

The official declined to offer further details.

This follows local media reports over the weekend that Air China, which had a 9.6 bln hkd initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong in January, is selecting underwriters for an IPO on the Shanghai bourse.

Funds raised from the offer would be used to set up cargo and passenger handling facilities in Shanghai and Guangzhou, the homebases for Air China's local rivals China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, the reports said.

Air China carried 3.81 mln passengers in the first two months of this year, up 10.4 pct year-on-year. China Eastern's passenger traffic was up 4.14 pct to 2.61 mln. China Southern's passenger traffic rose 48.2 pct to 6.14 mln.

Last week, Air China also denied reports of a plan to acquire a controlling stake in Hong Kong's leading airline, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.

Air China said in a statement that it is exploring different possibilities for cooperation with Cathay, but that its corporate parent, China National Aviation Holding Co, intends to remain its controlling shareholder.

The reported takeover was also denied by Cathay and its parent Swire Pacific.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 04:05 AM   #284
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Beijing Capital Airport may list domestically to fund expansion - report
21 March 2005

BEIJING (AFX) - Beijing Capital International Airport Co (HK 0694), one of the top three airport operators in the country, might launch an initial public offering (IPO) on the domestic bourse within the year to help fund its on-going expansion, the Wen Wei Po reported, citing sources.

The paper did not specify the size of the A-share IPO or the amount the airport aims to raise, but said the cost of the expansion -- including a new runway and a passenger terminal -- will be 19.3-20.3 bln yuan, higher than an earlier estimate of 19.04 bln.

The airport has yet to secure shareholders' approval for the move, and to work out a cost-sharing scheme with its state-owned parent, Beijing Capital International Airport Group.

The initial plan is for the listed airport to fund the runway, terminal and some essential aviation facilities, costing up to 1.5 bln yuan, with the parent responsible for peripheral projects, the paper added

The expansion will enable Beijing Capital International to handle 60 mln passengers and 500,000 flights per year, as it completes the expansion at the end of 2007, up sharply from the the current levels of 26.5 mln passengers and 250,000 flights, an airport official told XFN-Asia in an earlier interview.

(1 usd = 8.3 yuan)
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 10:00 PM   #285
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Shanghai Airlines 2004 Net CNY263.6M Vs CNY91.9M
22 March 2005

SHANGHAI (Dow Jones)--Shanghai Airlines Co. (600591.SH) said its net profit more than doubled on year in 2004, as demand for air transport increased rapidly.

The airline posted a net profit of CNY263.6 million in 2004, compared with CNY91.9 million in the previous year. Its core revenue rose to CNY6.59 billion from CNY4.52 billion.

The figures are audited, consolidated, and according to Chinese accounting standards, the company said in its annual report.

Earlier this year, Shanghai Airlines was one of six Chinese airlines that signed an order for a total of 60 of Boeing Co.'s (BA) new 787 Dreamliner airplanes.

- By Jeff Meyer, Dow Jones Newswires
- Edited by Andrew Bullard
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 05:58 PM   #286
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Air China said to be planning 3b yuan bond sale
Tim LeeMaster
23 March 2005
The Standard

Air China, the mainland's flag carrier and dominant provider of international service, plans to sell three billion yuan (HK$2.83 billion) worth of 10-year bonds to fund the purchase of new aircraft, according to a source.

CITIC Securities, ranked sixth so far this year in mainland bond underwriting,is said to be managing the deal, which is believed to have already received regulatory approval from the National Development and Reform Commission. An Air China spokesman, however, denied the company has plans to sell bonds.

Though the carrier will have to swap the yuan it raises for US dollars or euros in order to pay Boeing or Airbus for new aircraft, market sources said the domesticsale is still attractive because the carrier can raise money more cheaply at home than abroad. That is true even though corporate bond sales remain a rarity in the mainland, with only about a dozen receiving regulatory approval each year, a mere 3.5 percent of total bond issuance. Only a handful of internationalissues are permitted each year.

``It's straightforward enough and there is quite enough liquidity [to raise] 10 billion yuan or even 100 billion yuan,'' Fitch Ratings China managing director Larry Lee said.

The airline should be able to swap the yuan for foreign currency and its revenues from its international routes would serve as a natural hedge against exchange rate fluctuations, he said. About a third of Air China's sales come from overseas routes.

Mainland rating agencies Dagong and Chengxin are expected to rate the new issue.

The company, which flies elite communistparty officials around the mainlandand overseas, in addition to operatingan extensive domestic and internationalroute system, is in the process of a massive expansion as air travel in the mainland takes off.

The company sold shares in London and Hong Kong in December, raising HK$8.6 billion, with the proceeds earmarked to buy 14 new aircraft and pay down existing debt.

Merrill Lynch, one of the underwritersof the IPO, estimates Air China will spend HK$17.57 billion on new aircraft and a terminal at Beijing Capital Airport, the mainland's busiest.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 12:19 AM   #287
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Jiangsu Air orders five 50-seat jets for fleet
Danny Chung
25 March 2005
Hong Kong Standard

China Eastern Airlines, one of the top three airline groups on the mainland, said its unit Jiangsu Airlines is ordering five planes from a unit of AviChina Industry& Technology, only a week after it agreed to buy five larger aircraft from Airbus.

Jiangsu Airlines, a 62.56 percent-owned subsidiary of the Shanghai-based carrier will buy five ERJ145 planes from Harbin Embraer in a deal worth 910 million yuan (HK$857.95 million) at list prices. China Eastern did not disclose the exact price paid.

"The aircraft will be introduced to the group's fleet, principally to cater to the expected increasing market demand in regional aviation markets over Nanjingand its aviation network," companysecretary Luo Zhuping said.

According to its Web site, Nanjing-based Jiangsu Airlines has 12 aircraft and operates more than 70 routes to cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The newly ordered planes will be delivered in stages from August 2005 to April 2006.

The ERJ-145 aircraft, designed by Brazilian firm Embraer, is a twin-engine regional jet seating 50 passengers with a range of 3,000 kilometers. It first entered service in December 1996.

The manufacturer, Harbin Embraer, is a joint venture set up in December 2002 between Chinese aviation firm AviChina and Embraer, the world's fourth largest plane maker, to build and sell the ERJ-145 jet and its sister models.

China Southern Airlines was the first mainland airline to order the ERJ145 aircraft from Harbin Embraer when it placed an order for six of them in February last year.

At that time the only other user of the jet was Sichuan Airlines, 39 percent controlled by China Southern, which has been operating five of the planes since 2000.

China Eastern has been on a buying spree. Last week, the airline said it would buy five A319 planes in a deal worth 1.9 billion yuan at list prices.

In January, the Chinese government said it had ordered 60 of Boeing's latest aircraft, the 787, in a deal worth US$7.2 billion at list prices. China Eastern said it would take 15 of the planes.

In its recent global forecast, Boeing reckoned China would need 316 regionaljets seating less than 100 passengersfrom 2005 to 2023.

China Eastern stock closed Thursdayup 2.19 percent at HK$1.40 a share.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 02:35 AM   #288
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Private Chinese airline eyes Southeast Asian skies
21 March 2005
Business Daily Update
China Daily

A fledgling private Chinese airline is planning to provide luxury business travel between the capitals of Southeast Asian countries and Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Ying'an Airways hopes to launch its maiden flight in June, flying a 19-seat Y12E business jet to the capitals of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

"Ying'an hopes to become the first 'air taxi' in China," said Li Guiying, chairman of the airline's board.

The carrier is also in talks with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for more routes to and from Yunnan, which has become a popular regional tourist and business destination.

Up to 10 groups of private investors are planning to take advantage of a new opening in China's aviation industry, originally a semi-militarized sector that still presents awe-inspiring odds to newcomers.

Among other private carriers waiting in the wings to begin operations are United Eagle Airlines in the southwestern city of Chengdu, Spring International Airlines in the eastern city of Shanghai and Huaxia Airlines in China's west.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 06:23 PM   #289
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Brazil's Embraer notches up fresh jet sales with China Eastern Airlines

SAO PAULO, March 24 (AFP) - Brazilian regional aircraft-maker Embraer said Thursday it had sold five jets to China Eastern Airlines Jiangsu Ltd., through its China-based unit Harbin Embraer.

The Brazilian aircraft group said it had sold five ERJ 145 jets to the Chinese airline, marking its second deal with a Chinese carrier.

The jets are due to be delivered in the second half of 2005 and continue through 2006. The ERJ 145's are built in Harbin under licence from Embraer.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

"Embraer is very proud that China Eastern Airlines Jiangsu Ltd. chose the ERJ 145," said Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer Executive Vice-President for Civil Aircraft.

"It will no doubt reinforce Embraer's long-term commitment to the Chinese market. We are highly confident that the regional aviation market in China will enjoy further growth in the years to come."

"This is a very encouraging step forward for this Sino-Brazil joint venture. It will enhance both partners' efforts to expand and strengthen commercial ties with clients based in this dynamic economy," said Xu Zhanbin, vice president of AVIC II, Embraer's partner in the joint venture.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:29 PM   #290
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New Air Route Opens Between Seoul, China's Weihai
28 March 2005

SHANGHAI (AP)--Flights have begun on a new route connecting the South Korean capital of Seoul to Weihai on the eastern coast of China, Chinese official media reported.

The route opened Sunday and is being served by Chinese flag carrier Air China (0753.HK), China's Shandong Airlines (200152.SZ), and Korean Air (003490.SE), operating a combined total of 12 flights per week, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Weihai, a 45-minute, 450-kilometer flight from Seoul, is home to thousands of South Korean funded companies.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:30 PM   #291
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Beijing Airport To Add New Gates In $145M Overhaul
28 March 2005

BEIJING (AP)--Swamped with travelers just six years after a major expansion, Beijing's airport plans to spend CNY1.2 billion (US$145 million) to add new gates and improve its runways, state media reported.

Beijing Capital International Airport can handle 35 million passengers a year following the opening of its second terminal in 1999. But business and tourist travel is surging as China's economy booms.

Wang Jiadong, the airport's general manager, said the 'upgrading was necessary in terms of its passenger flows,' Xinhua reported.

The airport said last year its total number of annual travelers had passed 30 million and Xinhua cited Wang as saying that should jump by another 5 million this year.

The airport plans to add 67 spots for parking planes, at least 10 boarding gates and 32 reception counters, the Xinhua News Agency said Sunday. It also plans to upgrade runways.

The airport also is preparing to build a third terminal that officials say will expand its capacity to 60 million passengers a year.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:34 PM   #292
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Non-stop flight from Shanghai to Lhasa likely next year
28 March 2005
Business Daily Update
China Daily

Travelers to Tibet in Southwest China will no longer have to have a stopover at Chengdu Airport in Southwest China's Sichuan Province as the China Eastern Airlines will begin a non-stop flight next year from Shanghai to Lhasa, capital of Tibet.

A company official said Saturday the Shanghai-headquatered China Eastern had signed an agreement with aircraft giant Airbus to buy five Airbus A319s which are suitable for the flight.

The official said the new Airbus planes would be delivered beginning February 2006 and through July 2007.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 07:45 PM   #293
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Business Daily Update
March 29, 2005
British Airways Confirms London-Shanghai Service Plan

British Airways has confirmed plans to launch a five times weekly London to Shanghai service during its Summer 2005 schedule, The Center for Asia Pacific Aviation reported. The Sydney-based aviation industry consultancy said the new service is subject to approval from Chinese authorities. It said a commencement date for the Shanghai service was not disclosed. British Airways said the launch of services from Heathrow in London to Shanghai is the longhaul highlight of the airline's new summer schedule, which includes an average of 179 intercontinental flights a day, to 93 destinations.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 06:19 PM   #294
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Wednesday March 30, 3:08 PM
China Eastern Airlines to Launch Yangyang-Shanghai Flights

CHUNCHEON, March 30 Asia Pulse - China Eastern Airlines will launch regular chartered flights between Yangyang, eastern South Korea, and Shanghai from April 21, officials at the Gangwon provincial government said Wednesday.

The Chinese airline will run two flights a week on Mondays and Thursdays between the two destinations by Dec. 26 using its 156-seater aircraft.

Yangyang, situated on South Korea's eastern coast, 215 kilometers east of Seoul, boasts picturesque sightseeing courses such as Mount Seorak in its near vicinity.

Yangyang welcomed its first batch of chartered flights from Shanghai during February's Lunar New Year holiday when 12 flights were run, each carrying 155 Chinese tourists.

(Yonhap)
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Old March 30th, 2005, 06:23 PM   #295
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China may sign framework air service pact with ASEAN
29 March 2005
Business Daily Update
China Daily

China will likely sign a framework air service agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aimed at boosting air traffic with member countries of the regional grouping.

Yang Yuanyuan, director general of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), confirmed that the administration is planning such a move, but declined to offer further details.

China and Malaysia reached a memorandum of understanding on bilateral freight service last week, providing carriers from both sides with more operational flexibility.

Currently, carriers serving the China-Malaysia market include Chinese flag carrier Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Transmile Air.

Despite the fact that China's aviation industry is still strictly regulated, CAAC has started to ease controls and open up the sector.

The administration signed aviation deals with the country's major trading partners, such as the United States, Australia, Germany and Hong Kong. Senior CAAC officials have repeatedly pledged to open the market further.
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Old March 31st, 2005, 12:19 PM   #296
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Business Times - 31 Mar 2005

China's Hainan island pulls out the stops to become Asian air hub


BEIJING - China's southernmost island province Hainan is pulling out all the stops to succeed in its drive to become a regional hub for air traffic, state media reported on Thursday.

Aggressive route expansion and ambitious airport construction are among the key tactics employed to turn tropical Hainan into a credible contender for Asian air traffic, the Xinhua news agency said.

Hainan Airlines, the island's candidate for aviation greatness, plans to inaugurate four new passenger routes - to Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, according to Xinhua.

China Southern, one of the nation's three major carriers, is preparing to open a regular international flight to Seoul, plus periodic flights to the Japanese destinations of Tokyo, Aomori and Nagoya, the agency reported.

Hainan's two international airports, Meilan near the island capital of Haikou, and Phoenix near the seaside resort city of Sanya, are also involved in expansion projects, both of which are scheduled to be completed this year.

The island also plans to woo foreign airlines from South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to open regular flights to Hainan.

This has been made easier after the Chinese government granted foreign carriers special privileges on flights to Meilan and Phoenix in August 2003.

The privileges, known as fifth freedom rights, allow foreign carriers to fly in from abroad, offload passengers and freight and then pick up local passengers or cargo before flying on to another country.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old April 1st, 2005, 07:06 AM   #297
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Swire, Ch Eastern eye stake in Zhengzhou airport

HONG KONG, April 1 (Reuters) - Swire Pacific (0019.HK) said on Friday it and joint venture partner China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) (0670.HK) have held preliminary talks with Zhengzhou city airport in China's Henan province about taking a stake in the facility.

Swire spokeswoman Maisie Shun-wah, confirming local media reports, said no further talks have been held since an initial meeting between the two sides, and added there is as yet no concrete agreement on an investment.

If the discussions lead to a deal, it would mark the venture's first investment since it was set up in February 2003 to look for opportunities in airport projects in China. Swire holds 46.5 percent of Hong Kong's dominant airline Cathay Pacific (0293.HK).

Swire shares have fallen 2.7 percent over the past month to end at HK$61.75 on Thursday.
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Old April 1st, 2005, 05:27 PM   #298
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Hainan to increase int'l flights this year
31 March 2005
Xinhua

HAIKOU, March 31 (CEIS) -- The aviation sector in Southernmost China's island province of Hainan tries to serve as a stopover hub and terminal for more foreign airlines, increasing the number of its overseas flights to 6,000 this year, according to the provincial aviation authorities.

The move would blaze a trail for reform of the nation's entire aviation sector as the General Administration of Civil Aviation Administration of China granted part of air freedom rights to Hainan on a trial basis in July 2003.

Two international airports, Meilan in Haikou, capital of the province, and Fenghuang (Pheonix) in Sanya, a major holiday resort on the island, were designated as the hub airports.

The Hainan Airlines will open four overseas passengers flights from Haikou, to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, to Singapore and to Hong Kong and Macao. It will also open two international cargo flights between Haikou and Seoul of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and from Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, to Osaka of Japan via Haikou.

South China Airlines Hainan branch, another major airways operator in the island province, will open a regular international flight from Haikou to Seoul and periodic international flights from the province to Tokyo, Aomori and Nagoya of Japan.

Meanwhile, Hainan will woo four foreign airlines from ROK, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to open regular flights to Hainan or to other Chinese cities with a stopover in the province, the provincial aviation authorities said.

This year the Meilan and Fenghuang airports are continuing to expand. The second-phase construction project of Meilan should be completed in mid 2005 and that of Fenghuang is scheduled for completion at the end of this year.

Thanks to its special freedom, Hainan has attracted 10 foreign airlines to start air services to the province and open 12 international flights. Last year, Hainan recorded 285,200 inbound and outbound passengers by air, a year-on-year growth of 49.1 percent; and handled 3,556.4 tons of air cargo and posts, up 53.1 percent.

Traditionally, an airline needs the approval of the governments of the various countries involved before it can fly in or out of country, or even across the country without landing.

There are generally considered to be Eight Air Freedoms. Hainan now has the right to allow international flights to land on the island, the right to fly from China to another country and to carry passengers to one country and then fly on to another country (rather than back to their own).

Economists believe air freedom rights extension will help stimulate a local economy. If it is successful in Hainan, the practice will be spread to other provinces and cities across China, sources with the General Administration of Civil Aviation said.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 01:27 PM   #299
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April 2, 2005
UPS wins final approval to up flights to China

ATLANTA - UPS, the world's largest shipping carrier has won final government approval to expand its air operations to and from China.

The Atlanta-based company currently flies from the United States to China 12 times per week and will expand that number to 18 this year.

The company said the US Department of Transportation has issued a final order granting UPS two additional frequencies to Shanghai and one new frequency to Guangzhou, effective next year.

UPS, which hopes to set up a regional air hub in Shanghai, said the extra flights will allow the company to offer full seven-days-a-week service to Guangzhou and increase capacity to Shanghai on the two busiest days of the week, Thursday and Saturday.

The US and China negotiated a new bilateral agreement last year that opened the door for expanded aviation rights, something several major passenger airlines have also been courting. -- AP

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 06:26 PM   #300
hkskyline
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Fighting for a place at the table

Airlines and airports maneuver for a piece of the burgeoning China freight market

By Geoffrey Thomas
In Hong Kong
Air Transport World, December 2004

Of the lessons learned from the shocks that have jolted the airline industry over the past few years, perhaps the most valuable is the resilience of air cargo. Despite SARS, terrorism and avian flu, Asian airlines have managed to derive ever-increasing revenue--in one case, up to 48% of the total--from freight.

In fact, freight is now recognized as a form of insulation from the fickle whims of passenger traffic. And China, the world's fastest-growing market with 9.5% annual GDP growth and exports topping $851.2 billion in 2003--triple the 1997 number--is attracting immense interest from airports and airlines in the region as the "best ticket in town" for cargo revenue.

In late October, in a fascinating twist in the drive for freeing markets, a new dimension emerged. Chinese authorities announced, in a de facto manner through an Air China-Cathay Pacific equity tie-up that the country's two dominant hubs would become Beijing and Hong Kong. Perhaps not coincidently, that news came just one week after Hong Kong-based Cathay was awarded
12 much-sought-after weekly freight services to Shanghai.

The Air China-Cathay linkage is seen by some China watchers as an effort by Beijing to bolster that city's hub status and temper the rapid expansion of Shanghai. Last year, Shanghai handled 1.2 million tonnes--double the year before--and soared past Beijing as China's premier cargo gateway. Hong Kong, the world's second-busiest cargo airport, handled 2.6 million tonnes while Beijing accounted for just 662,000 tonnes.

Hong Kong's drive to remain Asia's dominant cargo hub and gateway for Chinese exports is well supported by Cathay, its subsidiary Air Hong Kong Ltd. and affiliate Dragonair. All have made significant investments in freighters. AHK as it exists today has grown out of a cooperative venture between Cathay Pacific and DHL Worldwide Express that was signed in October 2002 to support DHL's services to major cities in the Asia/Pacific region. DHL serves 24 destinations in Asia with 34 dedicated overnight express services and 800 commercial flights a day.

Cathay owns 60% of AHK and DHL holds 40%. Cathay initially used 777s and A330s in back-of-the-clock operations beginning in 2000 to deliver DHL overnight packages to six destinations. However, in 2002 the companies restructured their cargo operations, with AHK ceasing its 747-200F services to Europe to concentrate on Asian operations such as DHL overnight work. In support of this plan, AHK has ordered six firm and four option A300-600 General Freighters, one of which has been delivered with the remaining firm aircraft arriving through the first quarter of 2005. They will operate night flights to Bangkok, Taipei, Narita, Penang, Singapore and possibly Manila.

An interesting challenge for AHK will be utilization of the A300-600GFs during the day. "There are a host of opportunities for ad hoc charters," CEO David Saechiu tells ATW. He also confirms that the carrier intends to firm the four optioned freighters for China services now that Cathay has received the Shanghai authority. He is bullish on Hong Kong's ability to
remain the region's dominant hub with its "industry best" cargo loss record and vast financial services infrastructure.

While AHK takes care of the intra-Asia cargo, Cathay is ramping up its freighter fleet with a 747-400SF conversion program launched earlier this year. The initial order calls for conversion of at least six and as many as 12 747-400 passenger aircraft. The first is expected to be completed in December 2005 and five more by 2007.

The airline currently operates six 747-200Fs and five 747-400Fs with one on order and is the world's sixth-largest air cargo carrier in terms of tonnage. Dragonair also has ambitious cargo expansion plans. It recorded a 39.6% hike in cargo to 269,981 tonnes in 2003 and has four 747Fs in service with five 747SFs due for delivery from Singapore Airlines between 2006
and 2008.

China's major players also have ambitious goals. China Southern Airlines is planning to expand its freighter fleet from two 747-400Fs to support the new Baiyun International Airport at Guangzhou, which it claims will be the country's largest cargo facility and one of the top ten in Asia.

Air China and China Eastern have cargo subsidiaries. This year, Air China Cargo ordered two more 747-400Fs to add to its fleet of five. Ever mindful of competition from Chinese airlines, Hong Kong Center for Transport And Logistics, the dominant freight handler with 80% of the market, is establishing an air cargo consolidation center in the Fujian free trade zone in Shenzhen to win cargo before it gets to its rivals' airports. However, China Southern is alert to this move and has plans for its own trucking group to supplement and feed its cargo operation at Baiyun.

With China's massive growth, it clearly is the dominant market for air cargo in Asia, but opportunities very much will depend on the level of airport access granted and where those airports are located. "The China-US agreement signed earlier this
year has the potential to alter freight markets and flows in the region dramatically," says Derek Sadubin, GM of the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

He notes that the agreement allows a total of 195 new weekly services over six years for the carriers of each country--111 for all-cargo carriers and 84 for passenger airlines--in addition to the current 54 weekly flights. Therefore, by 2010 each country is expected to operate 249 weekly cargo flights, approaching the current frequency between the US and Japan.

Hubs are a key part of the US-China agreement, Sadubin asserts. "Significantly for Hong Kong, the agreement allows carriers to establish cargo hubs in the other country by 2007 if they meet certain minimum-service requirements," he says. "For Hong Kong to retain its dominant position in Asia, the next round of US-Hong Kong talks scheduled for 2005 is critical. To
safeguard Hong Kong's hub role and to maximize the airport's value as it is privatized, a significant liberalization with the US in 2005 is inevitable. This will probably include access to the tightly controlled Hong Kong-Japan market, which the US tried to gain access to in 2002 and which has been strenuously opposed by Cathay Pacific."

But one US airline is having second thoughts about establishing a hub in China. FedEx Express Regional VP-China Region Eddy Chan told the Beijing Morning Post that the airline has reservations about moving its hub from Subic Bay in the Philippines to the new Baiyun airport. "China's aviation fuel costs are the highest in Asia and its landing charges are the second-highest after Japan," he says. FedEx will make its decision within a year, according to Chan, although some analysts suggest it cannot afford to turn its back on a China hub strategy.

FedEx Express has a dominant position in Asia with 295 flights a day across the Pacific and within the region. In the China market it had 11 flights per week before the new allocation, and with Chinese partners serves 213 markets in the country. It has made a massive commitment to future growth with its launch order for 10 A380Fs with deliveries from 2008. On its
radar scope are services to 100 additional Chinese cities. China and Asia are critical to FedEx's expansion plans, as US domestic package business--both document and box--has reached a plateau with only a marginal increase expected in 2005 and 2006 after just 2% growth in the past two years.

While Beijing and Hong Kong would like to control all the cargo traffic from China, others have very different views of how that business may flow. Taiwan is a giant in the cargo business, not to mention one of the largest investors in China. In the first five months of 2004, exports from Taiwan to China surged 33% to $17.7 billion and imports from China went up 53%. That trade, which includes transit cargo to the US, is carried mainly by two alliance groupings, China Airlines-Dragonair and EVA Air-Shanghai Airlines. Those alliances may come under strain when Dragonair starts US services and Shanghai Airlines gains rights to the US. China Airlines also has a 25% stake in China Cargo, which teams China Eastern and shipping giant Cosco.

To meet growth and bolster Taipei's role as a hub, a new 111-acre free trade cargo complex is under construction at Taipei's Chiang Kai Shek InternationalAirport. The first stage of the $640 million JV between the Taiwan government and Far Glory Air Cargo Terminal is due to open next year. Taiwan's GDP growth is second only to China's at 7.7% with IATA projecting cargo growth at 7% per year between now and 2007. To meet that demand, China Airlines ordered two more 747-400Fs in April to bring its fleet to 21 by 2007.

To the south, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok have plans to tap into the giant China cargo market even as they war among themselves for dominance of Southeast Asia. Changi Airport's preeminent position may come under threat from the new Bangkok airport scheduled to open in September 2005 if that facility can solve inadequate infrastructure problems. Current Thailand
gateway Don Muang is Asia's seventh-largest in cargo, handling 945,000 tonnes last year--still way behind Changi's 1.62 million tonnes.

Both Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International plan major expansion into China with a variety of cargo options including through flights to the US. Meanwhile, to the north and east of China, Korean and Japanese airports have evolved as major hubs for Chinese exports--in 2003, Narita handled 2.1 million tonnes and Seoul Incheon 1.8 million tonnes. Korean
Air, one of the world's top three freight haulers among combination carriers, saw cargo traffic soar 20.6% in the first quarter of 2004, built mainly on 55% growth in cargo from China. It has signed up for 20 747-400 freighter conversions with the first to be delivered in 2006. This is on top of two 747-400Fs ordered in early June for delivery in 2005. Currently
it operates 19 747-400Fs.

Lufthansa Cargo also is a major player in the China market and has just established an airfreight joint venture with Shenzhen Airlines to commence services in February to link Chinese destinations with Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand with two A300-600Fs.

Final word goes to DHL Regional Director-Greater China and Korea Jerry Hsu, who claims that "China could become the world's second-largest economy by 2015, and with $60 billion worth of goods being exported by air each year the real question is can you afford not to be in China today?"
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