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Old March 2nd, 2007, 03:51 AM   #221
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China Eastern in talks to be oneworld member

TOKYO, March 1 (Reuters) - China Eastern Airlines, the country's third-largest airline, is in talks with the "oneworld" airline alliance to be a member carrier, the alliance's managing partner said on Thursday.

The oneworld alliance, led by AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and British Airways, hopes to expand its network in the growing Chinese market by recruiting an airline on the mainland.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways is a member.

"We will continue to look for expanding our network in China, and yes, we are talking with China Eastern at the moment," oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch told a briefing, adding the alliance was also in talks with other carriers.

The chief executives of the oneworld members held a joint briefing in Tokyo on Thursday to mark Japan Airlines Corp.'s inclusion from April. Royal Jordanian and Hungary's Malev will also join the alliance from April.

Other oneworld members include Finland's Finnair, Spain's Iberia, and Chile's LAN.
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Old March 4th, 2007, 06:51 PM   #222
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China plans to build airport at 4,000-meter above sea level


Beijing, March 4 (PTI): China plans to build an airport at 4,000 meters above sea level at the source of three main Chinese rivers, the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers in northwest China, to boost economic development in that underdeveloped area, the state media reported today.

The airport will be built at Shangbatang in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwestern Qinghai Province with an estimated cost of 478 million yuan (61 million US dollars).

The airport will have a 3,800-meter-long runway and a 1,600-square-meter terminal building capable of handling 80,000 passengers by 2015.

It will improve transport in this remote prefecture, which currently relies on highway traffic.

The airport, 4,000 meters above sea level, will be financed by the General Administration of Civil Aviation and the National Development and Reform Commission.
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Old March 6th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #223
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China to invest 52 bn. yuan in airport construction in Western regions


Beijing, March 6 (Xinhua): China will invest 52 billion yuan ($6.67 billion) in airport construction in its Western regions from 2006 to 2010, said sources with the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) on Monday.

Six airports will be relocated and 31 will be expanded during the five years. Twelve airports were built and expanded in 2006 and 17 are under construction.

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will increase the number of its airports from the current 16 to 20 in 2010, according to the CAAC's five-year plan for airport construction.

Meanwhile, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which is also included in the country's West Development Strategy, will have 12 airports in 2010 and 18 in 2020.

The CAAC also plans to give subsidies to small airports in the western regions and some of the scheduled flights there.

In December 2006, the CAAC and the local Governments in northwest China paid a cash subsidy of 10 million yuan to airline companies that run feeder lines there.

The Western regions currently have 54 civilian airports, 38 per cent of the country's total.
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Old March 6th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #224
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Here's a radical idea : build a major hub in Western China, and have international flights from Europe connect there to secondary Chinese cities and the equivalent across east Asia. Trunk routes will be strengthened and secondary cities will benefit.
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Old March 7th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #225
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China's Hainan Air aims for 25 pct 2007 sales rise

BEIJING, March 7 (Reuters) - Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd. <900945.SS> <600221.SS>, China's fourth-largest air carrier, aims to increase its sales by at least 25 percent this year, helped by robust growth in demand for air travel in China, its chairman said on Wednesday.

Hainan Air, partly controlled by billionaire financier George Soros, also plans to take delivery of no fewer than 10 aircraft this year as it expands its network, Chen Feng told Reuters on the sidelines of China's annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing.

The carrier, based on the southern island of Hainan, booked 9.22 billion yuan ($1.19 billion) in sales in the first three quarters of last year, up from 7.30 billion in the same period a year earlier. It has yet to release its 2006 figures.

In June, Hainan Air raised $700 million in a share sale to fund a fleet expansion that will help it challenge bigger domestic rivals such as Air China <601111.SS> <0753.HK> and China Southern Airlines <600029.SS> <1055.HK>.

The private placement also gave control of Hainan Airlines to Grand China Airlines, which executives have said plans to list its shares overseas after the assets of affiliates Xinhua Airlines and Changan Airlines are folded into it. ($1=7.741 Yuan)
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Old March 16th, 2007, 02:14 PM   #226
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Air China to provide South America connecting flights with Avianca

BEIJING, March 15, 2007 (AFP) - Flag carrier Air China said on Thursday it has signed an agreement with Colombia's Avianca to offer customers of both airlines connecting itineraries between China and South America.

"This Avianca agreement underscores Air China's commitment to South America and showcases Air China's efforts to build a global network," the company said in a statement.

Late last year, Air China kicked off the first service between China and South America by launching a twice-weekly flight from Beijing to Sao Paulo, the economic and financial centre of Brazil, via Madrid.

The cooperation with Avianca, which is based in Bogota and offers services to 20 destinations in Colombia and 19 destinations in America and Europe, is a response to the growing demand of China's outbound tourists.

Air China said it flew 416,600 passengers internationally in February, up 24.4 percent from a year earlier.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 04:58 AM   #227
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Air China boosts profits to 3.2b yuan
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Air China (0753), the mainland's largest international carrier, saw net profit grow 87 percent to 3.2 billion yuan (HK$3.23 billion) in 2006 after selling its stake in Dragonair to Cathay Pacific (0293).

Turnover too rose 17 percent to 47 billion yuan on the back of stronger passenger and cargo traffic. The number of passengers rose 14 percent to 34 million while cargo totaled 1.02 million tonnes, a 15 percent rise.

Air China's profit was in line with Morgan Stanley's forecast of 3.16 billion yuan. It has been the country's most profitable carrier over the past three years, thanks to higher margins and better asset utilization, according to Citigroup analyst Ally Ma. "Our 2007 earnings forecasts are based on a 12.7 percent passenger traffic increase and a 1 percentage point lift in load factor to 77 percent for the full year."

With four 747-400 freighters added to its fleet last year, Air China's cargo capacity jumped 25.3 percent in both January and February, although load factor dipped to 48.9 percent. Cargo accounted for 10 percent of Air China's total revenue in 2005.

Air China won shareholder approval in December to proceed with a HK$3.23 billion buyout of China National Aviation Corporation. The acquisition will be funded by bank loans.

Air China sold 2 billion yuan of one-year debt to finance its capital needs after raising 4.59 billion yuan in a share placement midway through last year. There was speculation that the central government would inject at least 10 billion yuan into the "Big Three" - Air China, China Eastern Airlines (0670) and China Southern Airlines (1055) - to lower their gearing and improve profitability.

But Morgan Stanley analyst Edward Xu said Air China could not expect a fresh capital injection in the near term.

Air China's interest in Cathay Pacific rose to 17.3 percent during the share realignment in September that saw Dragonair become a fully owned Cathay subsidiary. Lower jet fuel prices should be reflected in its earnings for 2007-2008.

Air China recommended a final dividend of 0.049 yuan per share, up from 0.024 yuan per share in 2005. Air China shares rose 1 percent to HK$5.94 Monday before the earnings announcement. The stock has gained 41 percent this year.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 04:01 PM   #228
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FedEx launching express delivery in China
19 March 2007

BEIJING (AP) - FedEx Corp. announced Tuesday it will offer domestic express delivery service in China in May.

The service will offer next-business-day delivery to 19 cities in China, operating out of the eastern city of Hangzhou, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company said.

"We are well-positioned to capitalize on China's transition to a consumer economy through its rapidly growing middle class," Michael L. Ducker, president of FedEx Express International, said in a statement.

China agreed to open its domestic delivery and shipping industries to foreign competitors as part of its membership in the World Trade Organization.

Chinese airline Okay Airways will provide air transportation for the new FedEx service, the company said.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 04:02 PM   #229
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Restrictions holding back China's aviation sector: report

SINGAPORE, March 19, 2007 (AFP) - Controls over air fares, fuel supply and aircraft purchases are among the restrictions keeping China's aviation sector from growing at its full potential, an industry consultancy said.

With the economy growing 8.0-10 percent annually, China's aviation sector has what it takes to expand by up to 10 percentage points above current growth levels if these restrictions were lifted, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said in a statement issued late Sunday.

It did not give the current growth levels for China's aviation sector but said double-digit air traffic growth is possible.

"Double-digit air traffic growth is a certainty in an economy growing by 8-10 percent annually," said Peter Harbison, the consultancy's executive chairman.

"But controls over fares, routes, aircraft purchases, airport charges, fuel supply and distribution services are keeping China's aviation market from achieving its full potential."

These restrictions are also likely to stifle the growth of homegrown low cost carriers (LCCs) and make operating conditions tough for privately-owned airlines, said Harbison.

"An unfortunate by-product of these controls is that they may delay the advent of genuine domestic LCCs in China's market until the end of the decade," he said.

"China's nascent independent private airline sector will find the going tough in this environment and will largely remain confined to serving niche roles."

On the outlook, Harbison said national airline Air China can expect a strong 2007 due to its working partnership with Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific.

"Well-managed and politically favoured Air China can look forward to another good year in 2007, especially as greater network cooperation with Cathay Pacific comes online," he said.

Harbison expects foreign investment in the country's airport sector to gain momentum this year as the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is keen to reduce its burden of financing infrastructure upgrade.

"There is a growing hunger by the government for foreign investment ... to reduce the CAAC's burden of funding airport infrastructure, a role it clearly does not want to retain in the long term," Harbison said.
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 10:46 AM   #230
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FedEx launching express delivery in China
19 March 2007

BEIJING (AP) - FedEx Corp. announced Tuesday it will offer domestic express delivery service in China in May.

The service will offer next-business-day delivery to 19 cities in China, operating out of the eastern city of Hangzhou, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company said.

"We are well-positioned to capitalize on China's transition to a consumer economy through its rapidly growing middle class," Michael L. Ducker, president of FedEx Express International, said in a statement.

China agreed to open its domestic delivery and shipping industries to foreign competitors as part of its membership in the World Trade Organization.

Chinese airline Okay Airways will provide air transportation for the new FedEx service, the company said.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 09:04 AM   #231
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Beijing-Washington flight starts

Beijing-Washington flight starts
(AP)
Updated: 2007-03-29 09:12

United Airlines of the Untied States is kicking off the first direct flight Wednesday between Washington DC and China.

The nation's second-largest carrier received government approval to launch the route earlier this year. The service was coveted by executives and government officials and is estimated to be worth more than $200 million a year.

United beat out AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, which sought to fly between Dallas/Fort Worth and Beijing. Other contenders were Continental Airlines Inc., which applied for service between Newark, N.J., and Shanghai; and Northwest Airlines Corp., which applied for Detroit-Shanghai service.

The flight was scheduled to leave Washington Dulles International Airport at 12:23 p.m. Wednesday and land in Beijing at 1:55 p.m. local time Thursday. United has scheduled one daily flight from Dulles to China, and one return flight arriving in Dulles at 7:46 p.m.

"Connecting for the first time two of the world's most important cities is a historic occasion with great geopolitical, commercial and cultural promise for citizens of both the United States and China," Glenn Tilton, United's chief executive, said in a prepared statement.

Source: Chinadaily Website
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Old April 14th, 2007, 06:16 AM   #232
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U.S. hopes for pact with Beijing to liberalize air travel by May
13 April 2007

BEIJING (AP) - The United States is discussing a deal with China to liberalize air travel and hopes for a framework "open skies" agreement by May, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Friday.

Washington hopes to produce a formal agreement by the end of this year, said Peters, who was in Beijing to discuss the possible agreement with Chinese officials.

"We want to at least have the basic framework in place by May," Peters said.

The number of airline flights between China and the United States is sharply limited by international agreement, despite rapidly rising tourist and business travel that has left aircraft packed.

U.S. carriers lobbied aggressively for one new route that was awarded this year. It went to United Airlines, which used it to launch the first direct service between Beijing and Washington last month.

Officials at American Airlines, the nation's biggest carrier, were hoping for more details Friday on just how quickly routes might be added between the two countries.

"Obviously we'd be greatly in favor of seeing more frequencies open up," said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American. "The markets between the United States and China are still greatly underserved."

American bid unsuccessfully last year for a Dallas-Beijing route. American plans to bid in the future for new flights to China, although Smith said the airline has not settled on specific routes. American is a unit of AMR Corp.

Continental Airlines Inc. supports the government's efforts to liberalize air travel between the two countries, said spokeswoman Julie King.

"Continental continues to be interested in additional flights to China, including New York to Shanghai," King said. Continental proposed a New York-Shanghai route last year, but the Transportation Department picked a rival offer by UAL Corp.'s United Airlines.

Delta Air Lines Inc. is also eager to get a foothold in China, officials at the carrier said Friday.

"Delta is keen to build our presence in Asia as a continuation of our international expansion," said spokeswoman Betsy Talton. "To this end, we've applied to provide the first and only nonstop service to China from the Southeast, and would certainly pursue additional US-China markets if negotiators agree to further liberalization."

FedEx recently obtained rights to operate 30 roundtrip flights between the U.S. and China, spokeswoman Denise Lauer said.

"FedEx has long supported the liberalization of the global air industry," Lauer said. "We believe a more open aviation regimen will lead to lower costs, more flexible and efficient services, commercial activity and growth and development. We support it especially in the China market."

The courier broke ground last year on a $150 million hub in southern China at the Biyun International Airport in Guangzhou. FedEx recently completed a $400 million acquisition of a Chinese shipping partner, Tianjin Datian W. Group (DTW Group) Co., to expand its network in the country.

The framework "open skies" agreement would be discussed at a May meeting in Washington at a high-level U.S.-China dialogue on trade relations, Peter said.

Peters was due to meet with the director of China's air regulator, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and other officials.

Despite strong demand, there are an average of only 11 daily nonstop flights between China and the United States, Peters said. By comparison, she said, there are 55 daily flights between the United States and Germany, with which Washington has an "open skies" deal.

"Both senior Chinese officials as well as senior American officials have indicated that a liberalized aviation agreement is something that we want to accomplish in the short term," she said.

Such an agreement would be aimed at dropping restrictions on trans-Pacific flights and later allowing U.S. carriers to fly through China to other countries, Peters said. She said it also would be expected to cover cargo flights later.

Peters said one goal of her meetings in Beijing will be to allay Chinese fears that U.S. carriers would get a bigger share of the benefits than smaller, less experienced Chinese rivals.

In other "open skies" agreements, "in every case, there are benefits on both sides," Peters said.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 06:18 AM   #233
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Grand China Air granted operating licence

SHANGHAI, April 13 (Reuters) - China's aviation authorities have granted an operating licence to Grand China Airlines, which plans to take over the main assets of Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd. and three other small airlines, paving the way for a listing of the carrier.

Grand China Air, set up in 2004 and 18.64 percent owned by billionaire financier George Soros, is in the process of taking over the major aviation assets of Hainan Airlines, Xinhua Air, Changan Air and Shanxi Air, a company official said on Friday.

The carrier would seek a stock market listing after the restructuring is completed, he said, but did not give a timetable.

Media reports have said that Grand China Airlines might float shares in Hong Kong in the second half of this year to help fund its expansion.

Following the asset transfers, the company aims to double its fleet to 200 aircraft by 2010, to better compete with bigger domestic rivals Air China Ltd. , China Eastern Airlines Corp. and China Southern Airlines Co. .
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Old April 18th, 2007, 11:50 AM   #234
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China Southern swings to profit in 2006 on increased passenger traffic

BEIJING, April 17, 2007 (AFP) - China Southern Airlines turned around last year with a net profit of 188 million yuan (24.3 million dollars), the nation's largest carrier said Tuesday.

The company swung back to profit from a net loss of 1.8 billion yuan in 2005, according to international accounting standards, despite the impact of rising jet fuel prices and intense competition as passenger traffic increased.

China Southern carried 49.2 million passengers in 2006, up 11.5 percent, and 851,580 tonnes of cargo, up 6.5 percent, it said in its annual report filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The passenger load factor in 2006 was 71.7 percent, up 1.6 percentage points from a year earlier, while the overall load factor -- a measure of how much capacity is being utilised -- was up 0.5 percentage point at 63.8 percent.

The company did not provide any earnings forecast for 2007 but noted that the rise in jet fuel prices is expected to ease over the course of the year.

As of end-2006, the company's total assets stood at 76.2 billion yuan under Chinese accounting standards, up 5.4 percent from 72.3 billion yuan at the end of 2005.
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Old April 19th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #235
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US Will Push China To Ease Limits on Flights
12 April 2007
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SHANGHAI, China -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said she wants China to agree in principle to open its skies to international flights by American airlines, as Washington tries to speed the liberalization of a potentially huge aviation market.

Mrs. Peters, who stopped here on her way to Beijing for talks with her Chinese counterparts, said she would push China to reach a deal by May outlining the broad terms and timeframe under which U.S. and Chinese carriers could increase their access to each other's home markets.

Despite a 2004 agreement between Washington and Beijing to gradually increase air connections, the number of daily passenger flights by carriers from the U.S., the world's largest economy, to mainland China, the world's fourth-largest economy, is still just 10. By contrast, there are more than 120 flights a day by U.S. airlines to Britain.

'Improved transport links will have tremendous economic benefits, not just for the U.S., but for China as well,' said Mrs. Peters. 'Markets, not governments, should decide who flies where and what the prices are.'

Analysts say China appears intent on opening its doors more widely to foreign carriers. The main question is how quickly Beijing will be ready to move. China's own airlines will likely seek a slower pace that will allow them to prepare for heightened competition.

'I think the Chinese government is comfortable with ongoing liberalization. I don't think they are going to be especially protectionist,' said Damien Horth, an aviation analyst with UBS Securities in Hong Kong. But, he added, 'Purists want open skies immediately, but realists know it won't happen.'

Four U.S. carriers -- AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, Continental Airlines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp. and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines -- now fly to China. United recently inaugurated a newly approved flight from Washington to Beijing, after winning a heated competition among U.S. carriers for the single new route to open this year. In 2008, one more daily passenger or cargo flight is to be allowed, under the current bilateral aviation agreement.

The China flights of the U.S. airlines are frequently full. But Chinese airlines have had a hard time attracting U.S. passengers, given a poor reputation for quality, and they don't even use the full number of flights to which they are entitled under the agreement.

'Chinese airlines have struggled to get in-bound traffic,' said UBS's Mr. Horth. ' Air China is investing a lot to change its brand perception and its position in the market. But these things take a long time.'

Mrs. Peters, for her part, wants to speed things up. The U.S. transportation secretary said that after an agreement in principle, Washington and Beijing should move within six months to iron out the details of a phased liberalization of air traffic between the U.S. and China.

She said the agreement in principle should be reached by May, when a group of senior Chinese officials is scheduled to travel to the U.S. as part of the strategic economic dialogue between the two countries under U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

China has indicated concern about protecting its national air carriers and also said in talks that infrastructure bottlenecks will limit the pace at which Beijing can allow more international flights.

Another issue raised by the Chinese side: what Beijing officials consider the difficulties Chinese citizens have in obtaining visas to visit the U.S. Mrs. Peters said the U.S. is trying to make visas more readily available, within the limits of U.S. law.

Mrs. Peters also argues that liberalizing passenger air travel could help close the wide trade gap between the U.S. and China by making it easier for American service providers, such as lawyers and financial advisers, to do business in China.

If the U.S. and China do move to allow more flights, said Mr. Horth, the biggest losers would likely be Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and airlines in South Korea, which use their home bases as hubs as they ferry passengers from North America to China. More direct flights could erode that business.
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Old April 19th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #236
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Air China March Passengers Up 17% On Year To 2.87M
17 April 2007

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--National flag carrier Air China Ltd. (0753.HK) said Tuesday it carried 17% more passengers in March than it did a year earlier, led mainly by increases in international traffic.

The Beijing-based carrier transported 2.87 million passengers during the month, and also carried 15.5% more cargo to 83,072.6 metric tons. It didn't give year-earlier figures.

The airline's passenger load factor, or the percentage of seats filled on each flight, rose to 77.7%, up 4.2 percentage points from March last year.

During the month, Air China's international traffic jumped 31% to 489,600, while its domestic traffic rose 15% from a year earlier to 2.31 million.

Passenger numbers on flights to Hong Kong and Macau fell 5.6% from March 2006 to 69,500.

The rise in passenger numbers matched a 16% increase in the capacity of the airline's network in March.

Passenger capacity, as measured by available seat kilometers, rose to 7.10 billion ASKs, while passenger revenue, as measured by revenue passenger kilometers, rose 23% to 5.52 billion RPKs.

Air China didn't elaborate on its traffic figures, which were posted on its Web site.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 10:37 AM   #237
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Grand China Airlines eyes $2 bln HK IPO- paper

HONG KONG, April 23 (Reuters) - Hainan-based Grand China Airlines plans to raise about US$2 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong later this year, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Monday.

The South China Morning Post cited Grand China Air's chairman Chen Feng as saying the company will list shares as a Hong Kong incorporated red chip firm to get higher valuation, rather than as a mainland incorporated H-share company.

UBS and Goldman Sachs are the financial advisers of the IPO, the paper said. It gave no further listing details.

China's aviation authorities earlier this month granted an operating licence to Grand China Airlines, which plans to take over the main assets of Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd. <900945.SS> and three other small airlines, paving the way for a listing of the carrier.

Grand China Air, which is 18.64 percent owned by billionaire financier George Soros, is in the process of taking over the major aviation assets of Hainan Airlines, Xinhua Air, Changan Air and Shanxi Air, and the carrier would seek a stock market listing after the restructuring is completed, a company official had said. (US$1=HK$7.8)
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Old April 28th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #238
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China Southern to join Skyteam by year-end

BEIJING, April 27, 2007 (AFP) - China Southern Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, will join the SkyTeam Alliance grouping of airlines before the end of 2007, state media reported Friday.

Liu Shaoyong, general manager of China Southern, announced at an aviation summit in the southern island city of Sanya that his company would formally become a member of the SkyTeam Alliance this year, the Xinhua news agency said.

The SkyTeam Alliance, formed in June 2000, is one of the world's top three airline alliances, with members operating up to 15,000 daily flights. Among its 10 members are Air France, Korean Airlines and Air Mexico.

China Southern Airlines signed a framework agreement with the SkyTeam Alliance in August 2000, marking the first Chinese airline to join an international air service alliance.

Air China, the nation's flag carrier, and another major airline Shanghai Airlines have said they would join the rival Star Alliance, the first and largest global passenger airline network this year.
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Old April 28th, 2007, 06:29 PM   #239
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China Eastern Falls to Loss on Competition, Fuel
By Irene Shen

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- China Eastern Airlines Corp. had a second-half loss as competition increased in its main base of Shanghai and fuel prices rose. Shares rose on expectations that the nation's third-largest carrier will do better this year.

The loss of 1.58 billion yuan ($205 million) compared with a profit of 113.3 million yuan a year earlier. Sales rose 25 percent to 19.8 billion yuan. The figures were derived by subtracting first-half numbers from full-year earnings released by the Shanghai-based carrier today.

China's only listed carrier to report a 2006 loss faced increasing competition from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and other carriers in Shanghai and 19 percent higher fuel prices last year. It also benefited less from the appreciation of the yuan than China Southern Airlines Co., the nation's biggest, as a lower proportion of its debt is denominated in U.S. dollars.

``The company's earnings should improve this year on currency exchange gains, overall traffic growth and lower oil prices,'' said Karen Chan, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group in Hong Kong.

Shares of China Eastern rose 3.1 percent to close at HK$2.31 in Hong Kong. The stock has climbed 36 percent in 2007, compared with a 3 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

More Passengers

The company carried 35 million passengers in 2006, an increase of 44 percent, after it expanded its fleet and bought the assets of two other carriers from its parent in June 2005.

The airline filled 71.3 percent of its available seats in 2006, 2 percentage points higher than a year earlier. China Southern had a passenger load factor of 71.7 percent and Air China Ltd., the nation's largest international carrier, filled 75.9 percent of its seats.

China Southern returned to profit last year after a 3.3 percent appreciation in the yuan helped it book a 1.49 billion yuan one-time gain from currency fluctuation. China Eastern benefited less as only 63 percent of its debt is in dollars compared with 90 percent for China Southern, according to a Dec. 7 Credit Suisse Group report.

Hainan Airlines Co. and Shandong Airlines Co. also returned to profit last year following currency exchange gains. Air China boosted its profit 12 percent in the period. Shanghai Airlines Co. is yet to report its earnings.

Lower Load Factor

China Eastern faced greater competition on Shanghai-Hong Kong flights last year after Cathay Pacific bought its only rival on the route, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd. Hong Kong's largest airline also started its own services on the route in December. China Eastern's passenger load factor fell 1.4 percentage points from a year earlier to 64.8 percent the same month.

China's government raised the ex-factory price of jet fuel three times last year after increases in the global market cost. It also limited the amount of the increase airlines were allowed to pass onto customers through surcharges.

China Eastern aimed to hedge 12 percent of its fuel costs last year compared with 8 percent a year earlier, it said in a June 12 Shanghai stock exchange statement.

Jet fuel prices averaged 19 percent higher last year than a year earlier in Singapore, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

For the full year, China Eastern widened its loss sevenfold to 3.3 billion yuan, it said in a Hong Kong stock exchange statement today. That was more than the 1.38 billion yuan loss average of eight analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 39 percent to 36.8 billion yuan.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 07:03 PM   #240
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Wednesday May 9, 2:21 PM
IATA urges Beijing to improve air routing in south China

BEIJING (AFP) - Inefficient airspace routing in southern China is costing Chinese and global airlines nearly 130,000 dollars a day and needs to be remedied quickly, an international airline industry group said Wednesday.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also urged China's airlines to raise fuel efficiency standards and make air traffic management more transparent and efficient.

"The inefficient airspace design in the Pearl River Delta is costing one million Hong Kong dollars (128,000 dollars) a day with Chinese carriers being the most affected," IATA head Giovanni Bisignani, told an aviation forum of the south China air routes. "We need a solution quickly."

Bisignani praised China for opening up new air routes to Europe last year, but urged the nation to bring its air routing up to international standards.

"The goal is to use global standards to make Chinese airspace among the most effective in the world to meet demand safely and efficiently," he said.

He also urged China to join the IATA environment agenda to improve the fuel efficiency of aircraft, make air traffic management as efficient as possible and adopt global solutions for emissions trading.

China's air passenger transport grew by 15.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2007, as international travelling from the nation surged.

From January to March, passenger transport volume reached 40.9 million people, while travellers on international routes jumped by 23.9 percent to 3.8 million during the period, official figures show.

According to IATA estimates, China's air passenger numbers will grow by 9.6 percent annually until 2009 as the booming nation remains one of the world's fastest growing air markets.
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