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Old July 29th, 2008, 06:06 PM   #481
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Stranded air passengers clash with police in China: report
29 July 2008
Agence France Presse

Angry passengers scuffled with police in an airport in southwest China, smashing computers and desks Tuesday after their flights were delayed with no food or accommodation offered, state media said.

More than 170 passengers were stranded for a night at an airport in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, after three China Southern flights were delayed late Monday due to bad weather, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Some passengers were told to go to a hotel by themselves but ended up being rejected once they arrived, it said.

All the passengers, aged between two and 60, had to spend the night on an aircraft or in the departure hall without food, the report said.

They gathered at the terminal Tuesday morning, demanding an apology from the airline and a time for the rescheduled flights.

But the "improper manner" of China Southern staff eventually ignited the frustrated passengers, leading some to smash computers and desks with chairs and fight with police in the airport, Xinhua said.

A China Southern official told AFP the company was preparing a statement on the incident.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 07:21 AM   #482
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China pilots banned from job-hopping for Olympics

SHANGHAI, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Aviation regulators in eastern China have told airlines not to let pilots quit or change jobs before the end of the Beijing Olympics, fearing that job-hopping by pilots could undermine air safety, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China's (CAAC) eastern branch also secured an agreement from local courts not to rule on cases related to pilot resignations before or during the Games, which run from Aug. 8 to 24, the source told Reuters late on Thursday.

State-backed carriers such as China Eastern Airlines face a worsening shortage of pilots due to a boom in air travel and poaching by private-sector airlines that offer higher wages.

"The CAAC summoned all Shanghai-based carriers well before the Olympics and asked them to rein in their pilots and ensure air traffic safety during the Olympics," said the source.

"No (job) movement by pilots will be allowed before the end of the Games and no courts in Shanghai will rule on pilot-related issues."

A CAAC spokesman in Beijing said he had no direct knowledge of the matter.

Pilot poaching made headlines in April when Shanghai Airlines Co filed a law suit demanding a total of 35 million yuan ($5.12 million) in compensation from nine pilots who sought to quit their jobs.

In late March, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines Corp became entangled in a high-profile spat with pilots who staged a mid-air "strike" over wages and working conditions by flying their aircraft back to their departure airports, claiming bad weather.

Pilots in China typically enter into lifetime employment contracts with airlines and require approval to resign from their jobs, often paying hefty compensation to cover training costs.

China Eastern, one of China's three major airlines, and Shanghai Airlines were among carriers attending the CAAC meeting, the source added.

A China Eastern spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment and Shanghai Air declined to comment. ($1=6.840 Yuan)
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Old August 5th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #483
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Chinese military asked to relax airspace control
4 August 2008
Agence France Presse

China has to loosen overwhelming military control of its airspace to cater to explosive civil aviation growth, a senior US aviation official said Monday.

The military at present controls 80 percent of the vast country's airspace and the United States has been prodding Beijing to open it up in a bid to ease air traffic congestion.

"We are encouraged by the fact that several temporary routes previously under military control (have made way for) civil use to ease congestion," said Dorothy Reimold, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acting assistant administrator for international aviation.

"We certainly remain hopeful that this dialogue will remain ongoing and that there will be shifts to accommodate the civil aviation growth that has been forecast," she told a forum of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Reimold said the military "currently controls approximately 80 percent of China's airspace" at a time when the eastern portion of the country's airspace was "near saturation in terms of its capacity."

They include routes between the busy aviations hubs of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

As China places emphasis on expanding access to the western portion of the country through increased aviation operations, capacity constraints along with additional routes will become evident over time, she said.

"Airspace is a finite resource and China's growth will quickly exceed current capacity even with the addition of new operation procedures and new technologies."

Chinese airlines are forecast to purchase more than 2,600 commercial aircraft over the next 20 years, Reimold said.

Similarly, she said, more airspace would be necessary to accommodate the expected growth in the general aviation sector, which includes private jets and charter planes.

Some experts, Reimold said, had projected that the general aviation fleet in China could expand from just over 700 aircraft today to as many as 10,000 by the year 2020.

The FAA has been working closely with the Chinese government in recent years in an effort to improve the safety and capacity of the aviation system as a whole with particular emphasis for the upcoming Olympics, she said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, which oversees civil aviation in mainland China, told the FAA that they anticipated a 30 percent increase in air traffic to the Beijing airport during the Olympic Games, Reimold said.

The China-US aviation market is also growing at a double digit rate.

To meet this demand, the two countries recently signed a new air services agreement that authorizes their air carriers to operate 46 flights a day -- 23 each -- by 2012, Reimold said.

"The FAA will be working with Chinese authorities to establish systems to safely manage this growth," she said.

China's safety record, she pointed out, had also improved over the past years with the country enjoying "one of the lowest accident rates in the world," she said.

There have been no reported aviation fatalities since November 2004, when a China Eastern Airlines commuter plane crashed into a frozen lake in northern China, killing 55 people, she said.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 04:17 PM   #484
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CAAC unveils temporary compensation package

2008-08-15

Passengers can get free meals and accommodation and transfers if their flights are delayed during the Olympics and Paralympics, according to Thursday's Beijing Times.

The special measures were adopted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Wednesday after recent thunderstorms delayed a number of flights and left passengers stranded at airports.

The CAAC did not specify which airport had experienced serious delays, but an industry insider said that typhoons that hit coastal cities in southern China in the past week had grounded flights at local airports and slightly affected airports including Beijing.

In its notice, the CAAC ordered all airlines to help affected passengers transfer flights, even if their tickets may not allow this. Tickets such as those bought at a discount often prohibit passengers from transferring to flights run by other airlines.

Airlines are also required to provide free meals and accommodations to passengers, no matter what has caused the delay.

However, an unnamed CAAC official pointed out that the measures will only last for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics.

"This is good news, and I hope airlines can enforce it, and retain the service after the Games," said Ma Hui, who suffered a six-hour delay due to thunderstorms when traveling from Jiangsu to Beijing last summer.

Industry insiders said airlines normally do not provide such compensation if the delay was due to bad weather or other factors beyond their control.

Although airlines may help arrange hotel accommodation in the event of an overnight delay, the stranded passengers are expected to fork out for their stay.

In the notice, the CAAC also required airports and airlines to keep passengers informed about flight delays using phone calls, text messages and radio broadcasts.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2...nt_6937193.htm
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Old August 17th, 2008, 09:39 PM   #485
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Tianjin airport to build new runway for test flights of A320s

2008-08-17

TIANJIN, Aug.17 (Xinhua) -- Binhai international airport in Tianjin is to build a new runway for test flights of the Airbus A320.

The second runway will be 3,200 meters long and 45 meters wide. The cost has not disclosed. The project will be ready for service on May 1 next year, according to the airport authorities.

An assembly line for European aircraft maker Airbus A320 planes began construction in May 2007 in Tianjin.

Construction of a third runway will also begin at an opportune time to meet three needs: to test fly A320 planes, to meet expected growth in air travel, and to act as a reserve airport to the Capital International Airport in Beijing.

The assembly plant is a joint venture between Airbus and Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment Co., a Chinese alliance of China Aviation Industry Corp I, China Aviation Industry Corp II and Tianjin Bonded Zone Investment Co.

Airbus holds a majority 51 percent stake in the Tianjin assembly facility, with the rest held by Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment Co.

The assembly line project, with an estimated investment of 8 billion to 10 billion yuan (1.04 to 1.3 billion U.S. dollars), includes assembly workshops, power stations, hangars and outdoor facilities.

Based in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, the first for Airbus outside Europe, the plant is expected to start operating this month and have an annual capacity of assembling 44 aircraft by 2011, sources with the project said.

The first plane will roll off the production line next May.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20...nt_9437685.htm
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #486
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China Eastern starts a PVG-CPH route via Frankfurt. Translated from Danish via Google;


Article in Danish
Quote:
New overseas flight to Copenhagen

From October will Copenhagen Airport has a new langrute. This time, to the Far East.

From 26. October Chinese China Eastern will fly twice weekly between Shanghai and Copenhagen with Airbus A330-200. The new route is just put in the Amadeus reservation system. China Eastern has no English General Sales Agent.

The route between Copenhagen and Shanghai have not been busy since the SAS closed its direct link to april last year.

China Easterns next route from the start of vinterfartplanen between Shanghai and Copenhagen mellemlander However, in Frankfurt. The company flies seven times a week to Frankfurt.

Likewise, China Eastern, are not members of any of the three major alliances already routes from Shanghai to London, Paris and Frankfurt, writes Travelbroker.dk

Shanghai is one of the most popular destinations from Copenhagen Airport with a year over 25,000 passengers recorded in billetdata to travel to Shanghai with flyskifte in other European airports.

HB
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Old September 3rd, 2008, 06:30 AM   #487
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American Airlines asks Transportation Department for delay in launching new service to China
2 September 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - American Airlines has asked federal regulators for permission to delay its launch of new nonstop service between Chicago and Beijing for a year, citing the high price of jet fuel and other obstacles.

American, the largest U.S. airline, filed its request Friday with the Transportation Department, making it the latest in a line of U.S. carriers seeking to delay China service.

The Chicago-Beijing flights were scheduled to begin next April 9. American, a unit of Fort Worth,Texas-based AMR Corp., asked the Transportation Department for permission to begin the flights instead on April 4, 2010.

In asking for the delay, American cited high fuel costs, the economy and "the extraordinary adverse market and operating conditions affecting the entire airline industry."

U.S. airlines are expected to post multibillion-dollar losses this year as they battle high fuel prices and a weakening U.S. economy.

On Tuesday, however, oil prices settled at $109.71 per barrel, down $5.75 from Friday's closing price of $115.46, on news that Hurricane Gustav caused only minimal damage to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal regulators have approved previous requests for delays in China routes from United Airlines parent UAL Corp., US Airways Group Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp.

American already flies between Chicago and Shanghai. Last year, American won the rights to add the Chicago-Beijing route.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:04 AM   #488
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Fraport begins Chinese Xian airport joint venture with 24.5 pct stake
9 September 2008

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Airport operator Fraport AG said its joint venture with the Chinese Xian Xianyang International Airport Co. Ltd. began operations on Tuesday.

Fraport holds a 24.5 percent stake in the airport, the biggest in northwest China.

With the project, Fraport became the first foreign airport operator to invest in a non-listed airport in China, the company said in a statement.

Fraport Chief Executive Wilhelm Bender said the Frankfurt-based company was eager to be part of the expanding Chinese aviation market and was in talks with the government about other projects, though he did not elaborate.

Fraport believes Xian's airport has the potential of developing into a regional hub in the next few years. Further, it expects millions of Chinese and foreign tourists to visit Xian because of its famous terra-cotta warriors -- thousands of life-sized clay figures that represent one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century.

Fraport runs Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt and participates in other international airports like Antalya in Turkey, Delhi in India and Jiddah in Saudi-Arabia.

Fraport shares fell 2.6 percent to end at 40.90 euros ($58.40) in trading Tuesday in Frankfurt.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:43 AM   #489
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China's sole budget carrier scraps plan to slash baggage limit

BEIJING, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- China's only budget airline Spring Airlines has abandoned a plan to charge passengers for check-in or carry-on baggage exceeding 5 kg, an airline spokesman said on Thursday.

Zhang Lei, spokesman for the Shanghai-based airline, said the company had abandoned its plan to slash its baggage limit from 15 kg to five kg because most passengers would not accept such a limit.

"We had such a plan to charge passengers for check-in or carry-on baggage exceeding 5 kg, and we contacted officials with the air transport authority. But now we have decided to give up the plan since most passengers will not accept it," Zhang said.

Earlier in the day, the English language newspaper China Daily reported Spring Airlines had applied to the air transport authority to start charging passengers for check-in or carry-on baggage exceeding 5 kg.

The airline said such a plan was aimed to help the airline to save fuel, which accounted for about 50 percent of its operating costs, according to the daily.

Major Chinese airlines allow a standard 20-kg baggage allowance in accordance with Civil Aviation Administration of China regulations. Spring Airlines had already cut baggage allowance from 20 kg to 15 kg.

China's private and state-owned airlines are feeling the pinch amid weakening demand and rising costs. Carriers are trying to find ways to keep costs down as they brace for an expected downturn in the aviation industry.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #490
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Air China Carried 2.77M Passengers In Aug; Down 16.6%
12 September 2008

BEIJING (Dow Jones)--Air China Ltd. (0753.HK) said Friday it carried 2.77 million passengers in August, down 16.6% from a year earlier.

The Beijing-based carrier attributed the drop to a softening global economy and heightened security measures during the Olympics. The fall was within the company's forecast, it said in a statement, without elaborating on the forecast.

Air China said its August passenger load factor was 71.1%, down 13 percentage points from a year earlier. Its overall load factor fell 7 percentage points from a year earlier to 64.1%, the statement said.

Revenue passenger kilometers fell 16.3% to 5.27 billion, it said.

The airline purchased 243,000 metric tons of jet fuel in August with an average purchase price of CNY8,941 per ton, representing a 53.98% increase from a year earlier, the statement said.

It increased the fuel surcharge for flights to Hong Kong to HK$175 from HK$154 per person, and for flights from Hong Kong to HK$231 from HK$171 per person, effective Aug. 1.

Air China added four new aircraft in August: an A330-243, an A321-200 and two B737-800s, the statement said. As of Aug. 31, it operated a fleet of 235 aircraft.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:58 PM   #491
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Chinese pilots ordered to pay compensation for resignation
12 September 2008
Agence France Presse

A Chinese court has ruled that 10 pilots who resigned from China Eastern Airlines must pay the carrier a total of 1.2 million dollars in compensation, state media said Friday.

A court in the central Chinese city of Wuhan upheld an earlier judgment, ordering the ten to pay penalties ranging from 500,000 to 900,000 yuan (73,000 to 132,000 dollars) to China Eastern, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Li Fengyong, one of the pilots, told Xinhua that he and his colleagues had signed contracts specifying that they would be fined if they resigned from the Wuhan subsidiary of China Eastern -- the nation's third largest carrier.

But Li, together with 12 other China Eastern pilots, collectively resigned last year to protest their workload, which they said was "too heavy and involved immense pressure," according to the report.

The carrier immediately demanded 100 million yuan to cover the cost of their training.

Three of the pilots returned to work after a first trial in November while the rest insisted on appealing the lawsuit, the report said.

China's highly-regulated aviation industry has been plagued by a lack of pilots, and disputes between state-owned carriers and pilots seeking better pay and working conditions have at times turned sour.

China's civil aviation authority stripped China Eastern of some routes in the southwestern province of Yunnan after the carrier's pilots returned their planes to their departure airports in a labour protest.
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Old September 16th, 2008, 03:05 PM   #492
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China Southern Airlines reports transport volume plunge for Aug.

BEIJING, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) – China Southern Airlines has reported a plunge in transportation volume in August.

In August, the Chinese airline giant transported passengers of 4. 98 million person times, down 16.17 percent year on year. Its cargo transportation totaled 732.21 million ton-kilometers in the month, a decline of 19.63 percent year on year.

China Southern's passenger load factor in August dropped by 8.73 percent on year to 71.69 percent.

Analysts attributed the volume decline of the carrier mainly to the restriction factors during the Beijing Olympic Games.

Due to weakening of macro economic growth and influence of unexpected events, China's domestic airline companies have seen weak operation data since early this year.

Statistics released by Civil Aviation Administration of China ( CAAC) show that China's aviation industry made profits of 3.7 billion yuan in the first half of this year, registering a plunge of 23 percent year on year.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #493
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American Airlines wins Department of Transportation approval for delay in new China flights
16 September 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Federal regulators on Tuesday approved a request by American Airlines to delay launch of new nonstop service between Chicago and Beijing for a year because of high fuel costs and problems in the airline industry.

The brief order from the Transportation Department said the agency approved the airline's request to delay the service until no later than April 4, 2010.

Earlier this month, American asked the department for a delay in service that was scheduled to begin next April 9. American, the nation's largest airline, already flies between Chicago and Shanghai, and last year it won the rights to add the Chicago-Beijing route.

American is the latest carrier to delay China flights, including UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, US Airways Group Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp.

U.S. carriers are expected to post multibillion-dollar losses this year due to higher fuel costs and a weakening U.S. economy that could undercut demand for travel.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #494
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Air China turns to frills --- New marketing plan will aim to attract high-end passengers
18 September 2008
The Wall Street Journal Asia

HONG KONG -- With frills ranging from a la carte menus to door-to-door car service, Air China Ltd. plans to aggressively pursue the premium-class passengers who have typically avoided Chinese airlines.

In an interview, Chairman Kong Dong said the plan to pursue higher-margin fliers is part of its effort to earn a profit in a year beset by high fuel prices and other challenges.

International business travelers have tended to fly on non-Chinese airlines that offer better flight connections and richer frequent-flier benefits. But Mr. Kong said last month's Olympic Games in Beijing forced Air China, based in the Chinese capital, to improve its products and performance and gave it confidence to compete with foreign rivals for high-yielding corporate customers.

"The Olympics were a catalyst for upgrading our service," Mr. Kong said.

Designated as the sole passenger-airline partner of the Olympics, Air China began renovating its premium-class products on its Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s in advance of the Games. It upgraded in-flight entertainment systems, introduced new cutlery and, for first-class passengers, installed seats that recline to a completely flat position. It ordered similar improvements on new Airbus A330s that have yet to go into service.

Air China credits the move with helping it post a 2.9% increase in its passenger load factor, or percentage of seats filled, for premium-class seats during the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2007. Sales of premium-class tickets accounted for 15% of Air China's total revenue during the first six months, up from 14% last year, he said.

Air China's overall load factor slipped slightly for the first half of this year, as the earthquake in Sichuan province and other natural disasters dented domestic demand. Although Air China is the most profitable of China's three biggest state-run airlines, high fuel prices led to a 21% year-to-year drop in its net income for the six months ended June 30, to 1.24 billion yuan ($181 million).

Because jet fuel is priced in U.S. dollars, Chinese carriers have benefited from the recent appreciation of China's currency, the yuan, against the dollar. However, that financial cushion could vanish if the slowing global economy and China's surprise decision this week to cut interest rates cause the yuan to change course and weaken against the U.S. currency.

Mr. Kong said Air China achieved one billion yuan in cost savings during the first six months of the year. It has leaned on domestic airports to reduce the landing fees they charge the company, and it is performing more aircraft maintenance itself instead of paying outside companies to do so. Air China's planes are carrying fewer meals, magazines and newspapers to reduce weight and the amount of fuel used.

A new rule from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the industry regulator, should help. Starting next month, Air China and other Chinese carriers will no longer have to pay commissions to travel agents who sell tickets on their flights, he said.

Mr. Kong added he hasn't seen clear signs from the CAAC or other government bodies about whether they would support further consolidation among China's airlines.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 11:44 AM   #495
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Air China, battling falling demand, puts M&A aside

HONG KONG, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Air China has postponed plans to buy rival China Eastern Airlines because the aviation industry is struggling with falling demand for air travel amid financial turmoil in the United States, Kong Dong, chairman of the Chinese flag carrier, told a newspaper.

"Although oil prices have fallen below $100 (a barrel), uncertainty grows on demand for air travel," the South China Morning Post quoted Kong as saying.

Kong said his priority was to weather the drop in demand by strengthening Air China's internal controls rather than growing through mergers and acquisitions, the strategy pursued by his predecessor, Li Jiaxiang.

Passenger traffic at China's three major airlines, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern Airlines , has declined since May as a devastating earthquake in southwest China and strict security measures relating to the Beijing Olympics deterred travel.

Kong, who was appointed chairman of Air China in April, also said commercial considerations should give way to government decisions when it came to industry consolidation, the paper reported on Thursday.

Earlier this year shareholders of China Eastern, including Air China's parent, vetoed a $920 million offer by Singapore Airlines for a 24 percent stake in the Shanghai-based carrier.

China Eastern, which rejected a counter-offer by the parent of Air China, had said it would not give up its search for a strategic investor.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #496
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New special livery for Air China;

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Old September 25th, 2008, 02:56 PM   #497
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Evergreen wins approval for China air cargo route
24 September 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Evergreen International Airlines has won preliminary approval for a new air cargo route to China.

The McMinnville-based cargo giant enlisted members of Congress and a former Bush administration Cabinet member to lobby the U.S. Department of Transportation for the right to serve the highly competitive market.

Evergreen plans to acquire two Boeing 747-400F freighters to operate six round-trip flights a week to Shanghai from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, with stops in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Columbus, Ohio.

The airline plans to carry about 800,000 pounds of cargo a week out of China starting March 29.

Unlike competitors that pick up cargo in South Korea and elsewhere, Evergreen freighters will fly directly to the United States, departing and arriving on the same day as they cross the international dateline.

"This gives us a long-term commitment," said Brian Bauer, Evergreen International president. "It enables us to build more for the future as well."

At least two dozen members of Congress, and former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, wrote current Secretary Mary Peters to support Evergreen's application.

Mineta, now a partner at the Hill & Knowlton public relations firm, described Evergreen's proposal as realistic while the airline industry grapples with declining traffic and stratospheric fuel prices.

"Major carriers have been forced to pare back services, park or dispose of aircraft, and to delay new services in limited-entry markets," Mineta wrote.

He said "risky proposals" by other carriers to serve markets they are planning to leave "make no sense in today's economic environment."

Two other companies, Kalitta Air of Michigan and TradeWinds Airlines of North Carolina, competed vigorously with Evergreen for the U.S.-China route.

Department officials said they chose Evergreen because it could best compete with other U.S.-China cargo airlines, which include Federal Express, Northwest Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, United Parcel Service and China Cargo Airlines.

Shanghai is mainland China's largest cargo hub, according to Evergreen, with nearly twice as much freight as Beijing and almost four times as much as Guangzhou.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 01:18 PM   #498
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Xinhua News:
Airbus A320 final assembly line in Tianjin goes into operation
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Old October 16th, 2008, 12:41 PM   #499
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China air traffic may stay weak till H2 2009 -exec

SHANGHAI, Oct 9 (Reuters) - China's air travel market is likely to remain weak as the global economy falters and may not rebound until the second half of next year, a senior Chinese airline executive said on Thursday.

"Airlines are among the hardest hit by the current global economic downturn and no one knows how much worse it could turn out to be," said a senior executive with China Eastern Airlines , one of the country's three biggest carriers.

Passenger volume at China's major carriers, including flag carrier Air China and China Southern Airlines , the country's largest carrier by fleet size, started to show year-on-year declines in May, marking a reversal for an industry that had seen steady growth in recent years.

Many attributed the initial fall to a devastating earthquake that hit the country's southwest on May 12.

The decline extended into the next few months, but several industry veterans predicted in June that the market would rebound after the August Beijing Olympics, which curbed air traffic due to heightened airport security checks.

"It seems the forecast was way too optimistic. There is no sign of a warming up in the market now and things may not get any better until the second half of next year," said the executive, who asked not to be identified.

CUTTING FLIGHTS

He added that China's big domestic airlines may continue to cut back flights on loss-making routes to reduce costs.

China Eastern, China Southern and other carriers have been losing money on some of their long-haul international routes, due in part to a lack of global networks.

The executive declined to provide earnings guidance for China Eastern for the full year, but said the results would undoubtedly be worse than the company had been expecting. China Eastern has not disclosed an earnings forecast for the full year.

The carrier booked a 41.62 million yuan ($6.10 million) net profit in the first half of this year under domestic accounting standards, down 28.5 percent from a year earlier.

"The third quarter was not good. Passenger volume picked up a little during the week-long national holiday in October but was still no match for the boom last year."

If traffic continues to fall, domestic airlines may file a joint appeal next year to the government for subsidies and tax breaks, the executive added. Shares of major Chinese carriers, which have plunged in recent months as the stock market tumbled, rebounded on Thursday, lifted by Beijing's announcement late the previous day of its most aggressive monetary easing this decade, including rate cuts.

China Eastern's Shanghai-listed A shares were up 1.36 percent at 4.46 yuan in afternoon trade, while China Southern was up 0.27 percent at 3.69 yuan. That compared with a 0.36 percent drop in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC>.

But the executive said the rise in airline stocks would be short-lived if the global economy remained weak.

"(The monetary easing) helped us a little but not much. We may pay less interest on new loans now, but our passengers will not be coming back as long as the economy is weak." ($1=6.822 Yuan)
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Old October 17th, 2008, 06:06 PM   #500
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China airline sector seen posting loss in 2008

SHANGHAI, Oct 16 (Reuters) - China's airline industry will most likely end up in the red in 2008 as it confronts a slowing domestic economy and the prospects of a global recession, industry executives and analysts said on Thursday.

Flag carrier Air China and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines both warned in recent days they would post losses for the first nine months of the year, blaming high fuel costs and the weak economy.

"Traffic did not pick up after the Olympics as we had previously expected," said a senior executive with China Eastern, who asked not to be identified.

"The situation improved a bit during the weeklong national holiday in October but the outlook is still murky, given the faltering global economy.

"There is little doubt that the whole industry will make losses now that the flag carrier has also issued a profit warning," he said.

A sharp slowdown in the appreciation of the yuan since mid-July is also set to undermine earnings in the second half of the year.

The Chinese currency's rise allowed China's top three airlines to book a combined foreign exchange gain of 6.41 billion yuan ($938.5 million) in the first half.

In the offshore non-deliverable forwards market, one-year dollar/yuan NDFs <CNY1YNDFOR=> began implying 12-month yuan depreciation against the dollar last month for the first time in five years.

"That's really bad news for airlines which have a lot of dollar-denominated debt from aircraft orders," said Ma Ying, an analyst with Haitong Securities.

WORSE THAN EXPECTED

Air China's announcement late on Wednesday that it expected a nine-month loss sent its shares tumbling on Thursday, with its Hong Kong-listed shares plunging 13.75 percent to HK$2.76 by late afternoon trade, while its Shanghai-listed shares fell their 10 percent daily limit to 4.67 yuan.

The declines exceeded steep drops in the markets' benchmark indexes as worries over the global economy sparked a broad sell-off in shares.

"It's really surprising. I thought at least Air China could manage to make a tiny profit during the period, but the situation is worse than I expected," said Li Lei, an industry analyst with China Securities.

Air China has tended to outperform its domestic peers in difficult times in the past, including the SARS crisis in 2003 which pushed the industry into the red, but its more extensive long-haul routes have left it more vulnerable than its local peers to the current global financial crisis, analysts said.

Li had previously projected a combined profit of 1 billion yuan in 2008 for China's airline industry, but said he would have to change that forecast to a loss if the travel market stays weak in the fourth quarter.

"Unless there is a miracle, I may have to revise my projection," he said.

Passenger volume at China's three major carriers -- Air China, China Eastern and China Southern Airlines -- started to show year-on-year declines in May, marking a reversal for an industry that had seen steady growth in recent years.

Their business was also hurt by the devastating Sichuan earthquake in southwestern China in May, as well as travel restrictions and stepped-up airport safety checks that deterred air travel before and during the Beijing Olympics in August, which dealt a particularly severe blow to Beijing-based Air China.

China Eastern's Shanghai-listed shares also fell their 10 percent daily limit on Thursday, to 3.58 yuan, while China Southern dropped 9.22 percent to 3.15 yuan. ($1=6.830 Yuan)
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