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Old January 19th, 2006, 06:03 AM   #621
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Wednesday January 18, 7:51 PM
China Southern Air Dec Passengers Up 63% To 3.40 Million

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--China Southern Airlines Co. (ZNH) said Wednesday it carried 63% more passengers in December 2005 than a year earlier.

The Guangzhou-based airline carried 3.40 million passengers in the month, up from 2.08 million in December 2004. It also carried 49% more cargo, to 71,440 tons from 48,000 tons.

The airline didn't comment on the figures, which were posted on its Web site.

For all of 2005, China Southern had 44.12 million passengers, up 56% from 28.21 million in 2004. Cargo shipments rose 42% to 774,550 tons from 545,130 tons.

The surge in the airline's annual passenger figures followed the completion of its acquisition of Shenyang-based Northern Airlines Co., and Urumqi-based Xinjiang Airlines Co. in December 2004.

In 2005, China Southern's load factor - the number of available seats filled on its flights - rose slightly to 70.1% from 69.2% the previous year.

China Southern is one of China's three major airlines, along with China Eastern Airlines Ltd. (CEA) and Air China Ltd. (0753.HK).
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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:36 AM   #622
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High jet-fuel prices slashed 2005 earnings, China Eastern warns
20 January 2006
Hong Kong Standard

China Eastern Airlines, the country's third-largest carrier, has warned that high jet fuel prices have cut its 2005 profit by more than half from a year earlier, while some analysts expect the carrier to report a net loss.

However, the profit warning barely moved the airline's share price, as investors already expected Chinese airlines to report poor earnings. The stock edged up 0.8 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange Thursday to HK$1.26.

``Our current 2005 net profit forecast for China Eastern stands at 10 million yuan [HK$9.63 million], but it is likely that the carrier will report a net loss,'' said BOC International analyst Julia Tang, who assigned ``underperform'' calls on China Eastern's Hong Kong-listed Hshares and Shanghai-listed A shares.

VC Brokerage expects China Eastern will report a net loss of 165 million yuan (HK$158.4 million) in 2005. China Eastern's full-year results are due in April.

Chinese airlines' earnings have been crimped by the rising fuel price, their largest single cost, as jet kerosene traded in Singapore rose 49 percent in 2005. China raised the price of jet fuel four times last year, tracking an increase on international markets.

Shanghai-based China Eastern posted a loss of 475 million yuan in the first half, while Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines dipped into a net loss of 964 million yuan. Beijing-based Air China, which runs more international routes than the two, managed to achieve a net profit of 591 million yuan in the first half, although it was a 25 percent plunge from the year-earlier period.

The higher fuel cost was partly eased by a one-off gain from the revaluation of Chinese currency on July 21 last year, which boosted the yuan's value by 2.1 percent against the US dollar. Chinese airlines borrowed US dollar to settle aircraft purchases, so a stronger yuan would lead to a book gain. The exchange gain helped China Eastern report a 263 million yuan profit under Chinese accounting standards for the nine months ended September 2005, which was a 67 percent drop from the year-earlier period.

Excluding the one-off gain from the yuan revaluation, China Eastern would have booked a net loss of 150 million yuan for the first nine months, Tang said.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 03:38 AM   #623
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China Southern Airlines: May Post Loss For 2005
19 January 2006

SHANGHAI (Dow Jones)--China Southern Airlines Co. (ZNH) warned Friday it may post a loss for 2005 due to surging fuel costs and intensifying competition from domestic rivals.

"Crude prices were hovering at high levels in 2005. That pushed up the prices of jet fuels and our operational cost," the company said in a statement posted on the official China Securities Journal.

"Fiercer competition from domestic carriers also capped our profitability," it added.

The company offered no details on its financial performance over the past year.

Under current regulations, listed companies in China have to disclose their 2005 financial results by the end of April.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 04:33 AM   #624
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China's Spring Airlines links with Malaysia's AirAsia

SHANGHAI, Jan 19, 2006 (AFP) - Spring Airlines, a privately owned carrier aiming to tap China's budget travel market, has partnered with pioneering Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia, state press reported Thursday.

"The airline has started cooperation with Air Asia to develop new routes and projects," the Shanghai Daily quoted Wang Zhenghua, chairman of Spring, as saying.

Spring will operate three round-trip flights from Shanghai and Jinan cities to Xiamen city in China's southeast, where AirAsia operates flights to Southeast Asia, Wang said.

"We hope to use Xiamen as a transfer hub and open more flights from major provincial cities that don't have direct links to Southeast Asia," Wang said.

Shanghai-based Spring, owned by one of China's largest travel agencies, operates three Airbus A320s but unlike AsiaAir, it has yet to turn a profit and has been losing 250,000 dollars a month since its maiden flight in July.

Wang hopes the tie-up with AirAsia, which dominates the crowded Southeast Asian low-cost sector, could help Spring break even by this April.

Only last year, Okay Airways, the country's first budget airline, said prohibitive costs were forcing it to overhaul its budget business operating model.

Tight government restrictions over landing fees and tightly-controlled jet fuel make it particularly tough for discount airlines to make money in China.
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Old January 20th, 2006, 04:34 AM   #625
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Brazil's Embraer Sells 5 Jets To China Eastern Airlines
19 January 2006

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA (ERJ), or Embraer, announced the sale of five 50-sets jets ERJ-145 to China Eastern Airlines Wuhan Ltd. (600115.SH), the company said in a statement late Wednesday.

Embraer said it will deliver the aircraft between Nov., 2006 and June, 2007 . The jet-maker said the sale was made through its Chinese joint venture, Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry Co. Ltd.

Harbin Embraer, which has 188 workers producing the ERJ-145 model jet in China, is a joint venture between Embraer and two units of China Aviation Industry Corporation II.

In the fourth quarter of 2005, Embraer delivered 40 aircraft to customers, ending the year with a total of 141 jets delivered.

The firm said it expects to deliver a total of 145 aircraft in 2006 and 150 in 2007.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 03:20 AM   #626
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China Eastern Airlines projects over 10 percent growth rate in 2006- 2010
24 January 2006
Xinhua's China Economic Information Service

BEIJING, January 24 (CEIS) - China Eastern Airlines (NYSE: CEA, HK: 0607, SH: 600115) projects an average annual growth rate of not less than 10 percent in the 2006-2010 period, according to sources with the company.

The airline expects to realize a total traffic volume of 7.2 billion tons/ kilometer, generate net profits of 200 million yuan and transport 35 million passengers and one million tons of cargos in 2006, up 14.39 percent, 10.51 percent and 15.27 percent year on year respectively.

In the period, the company will build an air routes network with Shanghai, the largest city and financial center in China, as the center.

In 2005, the airline realized a total traffic volume of 6.29 billion tons/ kilometer and carried 31.672 million passengers and 867, 000 tons of cargos, up 197 percent, 181 percent and 200 percent respectively compared with that in 2000.

By 2010, it is expected to realize a total traffic volume of 12.5 billion tons/kilometer, generate operating turnover of more than 50 billion yuan and transport 60.7 million passengers and 2.1 million tons of cargos.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 07:27 AM   #627
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China Eastern Aims for 50% Shanghai Market Share

BEIJING, Jan 24 Asia Pulse - China Eastern Airlines (NYSE:CEA, SEHK:0607, SSX:600115) is aiming to garner a 50 per cent share of the Shanghai market, according to a company source.

The airline will introduce an Airbus A330-300 in 2006, the first of its kind in the mainland of China and open several international air routes including a service from Shanghai to Frankfurt.

By the end of 2005, the company had owned nearly 200 aircraft, of which the majority are Airbuses and Boeings.

The airline is expected to buy 40 more aircraft in the coming two years. By 2010, it will have more than 320 airplanes providing nearly 55,000 seats, a 12.8 per cent yearly growth compared with that at the end of 2005.

The company realized total traffic volume of 6.29 billion ton kilometres and transported 31.672 million passengers and 867,000 tons of cargo in 2005, up 197 per cent, 181 per cent and 200 per cent respectively compared with that in 2000.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 07:36 AM   #628
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FedEx to pay $400 mln for Chinese express business

HONG KONG, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Top global air express shipper FedEx said on Tuesday it is paying $400 million to buy out its Chinese partner's express delivery business in a move that boosts its presence in the export powerhouse.

FedEx said in a statement it would buy Tianjin Datian W. Group Co. Ltd.'s (DTW) 50 percent stake in their existing joint venture, and take over DTW's domestic express network.

"China is changing the world's economic landscape," said Frederick W. Smith, FedEx's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

"This strategic investment in the long-term growth of China will broaden and deepen our relationship by improving access to important markets."

FedEx will establish its first transport hub in China by about 2008 -- its largest outside the United States.

The U.S. giant has joined rivals United Parcel Service Inc. and Deutsche Post's DHL Express in a rush to expand in the air cargo market of China, the world's manufacturing workshop and third biggest trading country.

FedEx partnered with DTW in 1999. The Chinese firm operates a domestic express network from about 90 locations, the U.S. firm said in a statement.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:36 AM   #629
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Joke lands extra blow to airline's woes
28 January 2006
South China Morning Post

When you are down, you are down. The share prices of China Southern, once a favourite airline play among Hong Kong investors, have been in a steady decline. And for last year, it is expected to post steep losses after a year of plenty in 2004.

Now, an anonymous group of pranksters, presumably customers with way too much time on their hands while waiting for delayed flights on the mainland, have taken the trouble to register a website under the name www.china-southern.com .

Oh dear! The single photo posted online carries this caption: "Is this check-in opening soon? Maybe {hellip}"

For more official information, readers are advised to visit the airline's real website at www.cs-air.com .
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Old February 4th, 2006, 06:09 PM   #630
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Jardine Aviation eyes mainland market Air services company to form 1b yuan venture with Air China
4 February 2006
South China Morning Post

Jardine Aviation Services is to set up a one billion yuan 15-year joint venture with Air China to provide ground-handling services at Beijing airport, according to sources.

The air services firm, which accounts for 25 per cent of ground-handling services at Chek Lap Kok, would become the first Hong Kong company to tap into the lucrative business in the mainland.

Ground handling at mainland airports is currently operated by either the airport operators or the airlines. Beijing Capital Airport, for example, has two providers - Air China Ground Service Department and Beijing Airport Ground Service, which control the market 65 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

Beijing Capital Airport handled 342,000 flights last year, surpassing Hong Kong's 263,000 movements over the same period. Air traffic in Beijing was up 12 per cent from the previous year. The number of passengers using Beijing airport last year was 41 million, an increase of 17 per cent.

"This trend by mainland airport operators to desert ground-handling services is providing level ground for the players," said an industry source, who added that the role of airports should be confined to landlord and administrator.

According to the sources, Jardine Aviation and Air China's application for a joint venture had been cleared by the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China but was awaiting approval from the National Development and Reform Commission.

Jardine Aviation is fighting to get an equity stake in the joint venture of as much as 49 per cent.

An Air China spokeswoman said there was already a strong co-operative relationship between the two companies, given that Jardine Aviation was providing ground-handling services for Air China in Hong Kong.

Jardine has been involved in Hong Kong aviation since 1946 when it began providing sales agency and customised ground-handling services to airline customers.

Jardine Aviation is a joint venture between Jardine Matheson Group and China National Aviation Corp, formed in 1988.

Ground-handling services include passenger services - such as check-in, baggage services and ticketing services - as well as flight operations and cargo control.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 07:03 AM   #631
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KLM to start direct service between Amsterdam and China's Chengdu
5 February 2006

SHANGHAI (AFX) - Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) will start a direct service on May 28 between Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province, and Amsterdam, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The twice weekly service will be the first direct link between Sichuan and Europe. KLM, which has merged with Air France, will serve the route with two Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
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Old February 8th, 2006, 07:47 PM   #632
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Shenzhen Airlines To More Than Quadruple Fleet Over 9 Yrs
8 February 2006

SHANGHAI (Dow Jones)--Shenzhen Airlines Co. said it plans to more than quadruple the size of its fleet over nine years, a target that underscores expectations the robust growth of air travel in China will continue.

The unlisted Chinese carrier based in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, aims to grow its fleet to 60-70 aircraft in three years, to 100 aircraft in six years, and to 160 aircraft in nine years, from 33 aircraft now, according to a statement dated Tuesday.

Shenzhen Airlines said in the statement it agreed to lease three Airbus A320 aircraft from Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS.LN) as part of its expansion plan. The statement didn't mention financial details of the deal. An executive at RBS Aviation Capital in Asia declined to comment on the airline's statement.

The carrier would procure the other new aircraft by leasing and purchase, an official in the airline's corporate culture department said Wednesday, without elaborating. Shenzhen Airlines will use the new aircraft on both domestic and international routes, the official said.

The airline's international routes include Shenzhen-Seoul and Shenzhen-Kuala Lumpur, and it plans to soon launch a service from Shenzhen to Ho Chi Minh City, said the official.

The airline's expansion plan comes as more and more Chinese have the means to take to the skies instead of enduring what are sometimes days-long train journeys, and as an increasing number of Chinese tourists opt for overseas destinations.

Some of the world's largest aircraft makers have already flagged the Chinese market's potential. Airbus said it (ABI.YY) foresees China buying more passenger airplanes than any other country except the U.S over the next 20 years, while Boeing Co. (BA) forecast Chinese purchases of 2,612 planes in the next two decades.

Shenzhen Airlines said in the statement its core revenue rose 14% last year to CNY4.30 billion as it carried 5.73 million passengers, up 19%. The statement didn't provide year-earlier figures.

China's three biggest airlines in terms of traffic are Beiing-based Air China Ltd. (0753.HK), China Southern Airlines Co. (ZNH) of Guangzhou, and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Corp. (CEA).

Shenzhen Airlines, along with others such as Shandong Airlines Co. (200152.SZ) and Shanghai Airlines Co. (600591.SH), are smaller than the three leaders.

In January, Shenzhen Airlines said Export-Import Bank of China agreed to extend it a US$1.5 billion credit line in part to import aircraft.

Air China holds a 25% stake in Shenzhen Airlines, while Hui Run Investments is the airline's majority shareholder with a 55% stake in the company, Shenzhen Airlines said in January.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 05:05 PM   #633
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Air China seeks major listing in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, Feb 10, 2006 (AFP) - Flag carrier Air China said Friday it had applied to list 2.7 billion shares on the Shanghai stock exchange to finance the purchase of aircraft.

The airline, which is listed on the Hong Kong and London bourses, said it would seek Chinese market regulators' approval for a yuan-denominated A share issue equivalent to nearly 29 percent of its existing issued share capital.

The notice to the Hong Kong exchange did not say how much the company wanted to raise but net proceeds from the listing will be used to finance a previously announced purchase of 45 aircraft.

The money will also be spent on improving facilities at its Beijing base.

Air China chairman Li Jiaxiang said the company expects to pay no more than 5.68 billion dollars for all of the aircraft, while the development of the Beijing facility will cost about 600 million yuan (74 million dollars).

"The company believes the A share issue will establish a new financing platform for the company and will broaden the company's access to different securities markets," Li said.

Shareholder approval will be sought at a meeting on March 28.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 05:07 PM   #634
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Direct flights to Tel-Aviv double to twice weekly
10 February 2006
Xinhua's China Economic Information Service

BEIJING, February 10 (CEIS) -- EL AL Israel Airlines will start operating another weekly flight from Beijing to Tel Aviv starting from March 26, 2006.

The company decided to expand and improve its service in order to meet the needs of business travelers and the increased volume of tourists from both China and Israel.

The President of the EL AL Israel Airlines, Haim Romano said, traffic from China to Israel has increased steadily over the last few years, with the rise in the number of official delegations, businessmen, and additional commercial and tourist activities. Due to customer demand, EL AL made a strategic decision to double the frequency and add another weekly flight starting next month.

"Adding the flight between Beijing and Tel Aviv is within the framework of EL AL Israel Airlines to develop Chinese tourism to Israel,” said Romano.

Israel is a very attractive new destination for the Chinese market, combining rich and ancient culture, unique historical sites, excellent resorts and modern facilities for tourists. The accessibility from Israel to other countries will allow Chinese tourists to combine trips to Israel with side-trips to Italy, Egypt or Turkey.

China has given Israel “Approved Destination Status” for group tourists.

"We expect that the final agreement between the governments of China and Israel will be complete in the near future to allow Chinese travel agencies to offer tour packages to Israel," said Romano.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 05:08 PM   #635
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Passengers up but profits down for China's airlines in 2006

SHANGHAI, Feb 8, 2006 (AFP) - China's airlines are enjoying fast-rising passenger numbers but analysts say many may struggle to turn a profit this year due to increasing competition and oil-driven rising operational costs.

Passenger throughput is expected to rise 15 percent in 2006 to 159 million and cargo volumes are forecast to expand 10 percent to 3.36 million tonnes, according to the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China.

But analysts believe rising jet fuel prices -- with the price of crude oil still above 60 dollars a barrel -- will wipe out most airlines' gains.

"It is very unlikely that oil prices will decrease significantly in 2006 so carriers are expected to face even tougher operating pressures," China Securities analyst Li Lei said.

Fuel prices in China soared 25 percent last year to reach 5,133 yuan (637 dollars) per tonne at the start of 2006.

Two of China's major airlines -- China Southern and China Eastern -- have already warned of operating losses of over 50 percent in 2005 and analysts said a near-term reversal of fortune was unlikely.

Only flag carrier Air China is expected to buck the trend when it and the other big three airlines report full-year results in April.

Air China, which posted profits of 600 million yuan for the first half of 2005 on the back of its more extensive and lucrative international network, is expected to see an improved figure in the second half, Air China spokesman Wang Kai said.

For all Chinese airlines the burden of fuel costs is not going away soon.

Jet fuel on average accounts for 40 percent of Chinese costs compared with around 24 percent for airlines worldwide, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Airlines in China, which have to pay a premium to buy jet fuel at a set price from state-owned China Aviation Oil Holding Co. (CAOHC), have lobbied for the scrapping of price controls.

Regulators have signaled that CAOHC's monopoly may soon end but how much competition and the benefits this may bring is uncertain.

"I question whether opening the market will lead to a decline in the jet fuel price in the short-term," said Guotai Junan Securities analyst Jim Lam.

"CAOHC has essentially dominated the market and has many ground facilities and oil supplying facilities under its control ... new companies in the market will still need to cooperate with CAOHC," Lam said.

Regulators last year allowed airlines to raise surcharges by 20-80 yuan per passenger on domestic routes but it has not been enought to offset losses.

As part of the government's bid to improve the profitability of China's secondary airports, landing fees are expected to rise in the first half of 2006, a move that will squeeze earnings further.

"On average, for the three major carriers -- Air China, China Southern, China Eastern -- each one will have more than 400 million yuan in extra costs from landing charges," Lam said.

Adding to spiralling costs, China also plans to unify landing fees on international routes by cutting charges paid by foreign carriers by 20 to 30 percent and raising fees for domestic airlines by 15 percent.

Meawhile, growing competition from budget and regional airlines that can now fly routes previously off-limits will be good for the market but also means erording margins.

While some of these small carriers may not pose a huge threat to Air China and the others, stronger regional carriers like Hainan Airlines and Shandong Airlines do, Lam said.

For China's big airlines, it is not all gloom and doom, however, as what is already the world's third biggest aviation market is expected to continue expanding in line with the nation's economic growth.

"The thing in China's favor is that it's growing rapidly and has a strong economy which is creating new travel opportunities," said Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) analyst Derek Sadubin.

"There is still a fair bit of growth in the market to look forward to but there is so much capacity coming in with orders at record levels and it will continue to be a very competitive place."
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Old February 11th, 2006, 10:19 PM   #636
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Nation's carriers face rough landing over plan to lift fees
10 February 2006
South China Morning Post

China's proposals to ramp up the profitability of its second-tier airports could not have come at a worse time for the country's airlines, many of which are struggling to cope with higher fuel costs under a regulatory regime that restricts their ability to generate more revenue.

The General Administration for Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), the industry's governing body on the mainland, has been circulating a consultation paper which proposes to raise airport user charges for domestic flights next year by an average of 15 per cent.

If passed into law, the proposal could increase individual operating costs for China's main carriers by "several hundred million" yuan per year, a senior executive from one of the mainland's Big Three airlines told Below Deck yesterday.

Given that two of those carriers - China Southern and China Eastern - have issued guidance to the market that their earnings for last year will fall at least 50 per cent despite enjoying robust growth in passenger ticket sales, the proposals are being viewed darkly in airline quarters.

All of China's airlines struggled last year to deflect a 45 per cent increase in the average cost of jet fuel, handcuffed as they were by state restrictions on how much they charge for domestic passenger fares, surcharges or even how much they can hedge their fuel bills.

The regulator's logic is simple and twofold: 85 per cent of China's airports are losing money because their user fees are set too low to recover the operating costs of running the facility; essentially any airport handling fewer than five million passengers a year is running at a deficit - and the regulator knows that has to stop.

Moreover, China has emerging obligations under its agreement with the World Trade Organisation not to discriminate between foreign and domestic airlines and that extends to airport user fees.

At present, when Cathay Pacific or any foreign airline lands a 400-seat B747 at a Category 1 airport such as Shanghai, the fee is about $33,000; Air China or one of its cohorts pays about $13,000 for any flight headed for an international destination.

Foreign carriers also pay a 25 per cent penalty for landing at airports between 11pm and 6am and a further 10 per cent for landing anytime runway lights are needed.

Landing fees are just one of many charges waiting for airlines at China's airports but they are by far the largest not applied on a per capita basis. The CAAC aims to bring those fees more in line without damaging the airports' revenue streams. To do that, it would like to cut the overall penalty on foreign carriers by 20 per cent while boosting levies on domestic carriers on international flights - Hong Kong and Macau included - by 70 per cent.

Other than mainland carriers - which say user charges in China account for about 14 per cent of their operating costs - the proposals will have the biggest impact on airports with the least international flights.

It is estimated that airports such as Hangzhou Xiaoshan, which handles about 85 per cent domestic traffic, would enjoy at least a healthy single-digit rise in annual revenues, filling the coffers of its shareholders such as Hong Kong's airport authority.

According to mainland media reports, the aviation administration was hoping to bring the consultation process to a close and publish its decision by the end of last month. But with so much at stake for both airports and airlines, the carriers now say a decision may not be reached until the middle of the year.

Whatever decision is reached will be set in stone for the industry's next five-year plan, which begins in March. If the proposal is passed as written, operating costs for Chinese carriers will rise on both international and domestic flights.

And with little ability to boost revenue or recover those costs elsewhere, it can be a long five years on the mainland.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:26 PM   #637
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Air China to hire foreign captains amid industry pilot shortage

BEIJING, Feb 14, 2006 (AFP) - China's flagship airline is looking to hire foreign captains amid a shortage of qualified domestic pilots in the nation's fast-expanding aviation industry, state press said Tuesday.

"Currently, we are short of at least 40 captains so we will try to recruit foreign pilots," Li Huxiao, a senior staff member of Air China, told the China Daily.

The main reason foreign pilots need to be hired is because the demand for new services is growing faster than China's capacity to train pilots, Li said.

"Air China has planned to introduce 20 to 30 airplanes within this year but the exact number will depend on the supply of aircrew members, particularly the pilots," Li said.

"Currently, we are short of at least 40 captains."

Major Chinese airliners employ some 11,000 pilots to fly 770 planes, a ratio that is inadequate to cope with rising demand for air travel, said the report, citing industry experts.

China needs 1,200 to 1,600 new pilots a year but its major commercial flight training institute can only produce some 600 pilots a year, it said.

Further complicating the issue is China's ongoing deregulation of the aviation industry which has seen the start of several private airlines which are seeking to attract pilots away from the major airlines, the newspaper said.

In December alone, 10 pilots from China Eastern Airlines' Jiangsu branch resigned, apparently to take up offers from private carriers, it said.

The report did not say from which countries the foreign pilots would be recruited.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 02:53 AM   #638
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United seeks Guangzhou flights to US
Alman Loong
15 February 2006
Hong Kong Standard

United Airlines, which already operates two nonstop routes from China to the United States, could soon carry Guangzhou passengers nonstop to San Francisco if the carrier wins rights to the route in Sino-US air talks that may be held as early as this spring.

United believes there will be increased liberalization in air links between the two countries and indicated it was interested in starting flights between Guangzhou and the US, although the airline's executives Tuesday would not predict the outcome of the negotiations. Talks will be held sometime this year but how much more liberalization will occur ``is hard to predict,'' said Andrew Stephen, United's general manager (Hong Kong). ``We are looking for more opportunities both with passengers and cargoes.''

Sino-US air services negotiations are due to be held between April and June, a source said.

United is one of three US carriers operating nonstop to China under a 2004 agreement that has more than doubled airline traffic between the two countries and helped to turn China into a cargo hub for Asia.

Under the 2004 deal, the number of passenger and cargo flights is to increase to 249 a week by 2007 from 54 in 2004 and allows five new carriers from each country to fly US-mainland routes.

``US airlines have been strongly pushing the China government to negotiate rights as they are fully using existing capacity,'' the source said.

United operates daily services from Beijing to Chicago and from Shanghai to San Francisco. Northwest Airlines links Shanghai to Detroit, while Continental Airlines flies between Beijing and New York.

On the mainland side, Air China operates a daily flight from Beijing to New York and San Francisco, China Eastern links Shanghai to Los Angeles and China Southern flies daily from Guangzhou also to Los Angeles.

``US airlines have fully utilized the existing capacity after the 2004 agreement but our company has not,'' said Rao Xinyu, head of investor relations at Air China. Air China has not yet received notice of new negotiations from the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, he said.

China Eastern Airlines' passenger services to Los Angeles are doing very well, investor relations officer Chow Sun said. Business travel was booming and the airline would like to expand passenger services to the United States in the next round of talks.

The company plans to add New York as a destination and hopes to increase flight frequency.

Stephen, who declined to give details of his company's performance in China last year, said United had no plans to relaunch nonstop flights between Hong Kong and New York, which were halted in 2003 after the SARS outbreak.

The company's passenger load factor on Hong Kong-US flights was ``healthy'' in the past year, he said without giving details.

There were also no plans by the airline to launch either passengers or cargo services to Macau, he said, in spite of growing traffic volumes at the former enclave.

Passenger volumes at Macau airport surged 26 percent to 4.2 million last year, boosted by the city's booming casino business.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #639
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Chinese regulators begin to feel the weight of air cargo
17 February 2006
South China Morning Post

Quite when it happened is unclear, but at some point in the past five years, the mainland's aviation regulators warmed to the vital role the transport of trade by air plays in stimulating or maintaining a vibrant economy.

The first signs of a Great Leap Forward, if you will, came in 2004 when the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) threw caution to the wind and set a timetable to open the mainland skies to the likes of United Parcel Service and Federal Express.

The mainland's incumbent carriers were nowhere near ready to defend their patches against such well-heeled and aggressive operators. But with mainland airlines focused on the passenger side of the business, the CAAC clearly felt the health of the economy took precedence over defending what was at the time the most undervalued sector of the country's aviation industry.

That is no longer the case.

As the mainland enters its 11th five-year plan this year, the CAAC expects the volume of air cargo on the country to grow at a compound annual rate of 12 per cent for the period - against 13.6 per cent for the past five years - or about 25 per cent faster than forecasts for the country's gross domestic product expansion.

The growth numbers - for air cargo anyway - will be achieved from a small base: cargo and mail volumes grew a comparative 89.2 per cent last year to 3.04 million tonnes in all of the mainland, just shy of the amount of air trade handled out at the airport.

But the CAAC's new attitude towards air freight and the role it plays in maintaining a robust economy will be music to the ears of many Asian airlines, which have long been keenly focused on what goes in the belly of their aircraft.

"In the past, we paid too much attention to the passenger sector and not enough attention to cargo," Fang Liu, a director of international affairs for the CAAC, told delegates at the biannual Airfreight Asia conference in Shanghai yesterday. "That constrained the economy and specifically the logistics industry. We now recognise how important cargo is to our domestic economy. The 11th five-year plan calls for us to continue to liberalise {hellip} it is a very important transition period for China's air cargo industry."

For the carriers, the upside is huge. International consultants from Frost and Sullivan estimate the value of goods moving through the mainland's myriad and multimodal supply chains last year to have reached US$4.6 trillion, up 30 per cent.

A market that size can tend to blind people to the fact that the mainland's air cargo industry is only just emerging from its infancy. Airlines are not playing as big a role in moving the goods as they - or the CAAC, for that matter - would like.

Nevertheless, Hong Kong's carriers are already positioning themselves for the day their rights to fly to the mainland are expanded: Hong Kong Dragon Airlines has five new 747 freighters joining its fleet in the next three years; Cathay Pacific Airways last month signalled its intention to be the world's biggest scheduled freight carrier, replete with a new dedicated cargo terminal at Chek Lap Kok.

Aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus - whose bank accounts grew fat when the mainland spent US$11 billion on aircraft last year - will be further heartened by the CAAC's emerging respect for air cargo: of the 130 aircraft the mainland bought, none were freighters.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 06:17 PM   #640
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China to expand airports in new Olympic travel plan

BEIJING, Feb 17, 2006 (AFP) - China's aviation authorities have issued a plan for the 2008 Beijing Olympics that includes expanding 14 airports, opening more air corridors and using more e-ticketing, state press said Friday.

Work at Beijing airport on a third terminal building and a third runway is already underway. However the Beijing News said the new plan envisaged the expansion work finishing this year, earlier than previous targets of 2007.

Once complete, the airport will be able to handle annually 60 million passengers, 1.8 million tons of cargo and 500,000 flights, the paper said. The number of parking slots for planes will be expanded to 180.

Beijing airport's annual capacity is currently about 35 million passengers.

Aside from the ongoing upgrades at the Beijing airport, the Qingdao airport in eastern Shandong province, where the Olympic boating competition will be held, is also to be expanded and renovated, the Beijing News reported.

Twelve of the 14 other airports that will serve as back-ups to Beijing and Qingdao in case of emergency or weather-related problems will also be expanded or refurbished.

In an effort to accommodate increased air travel from Europe during the Games, authorities are also considering opening up more air corridors along the nation's northern border with Mongolia, the paper said.

The plan further calls for more modern ticketing methods, with electronic ticketing to be increased from 10 percent of all tickets sold currently to 50 percent by the time of the Games, it added.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country's aviation authority, approved the new plan on Thursday, the paper said, without giving details of the costs.
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