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Old January 12th, 2005, 11:23 PM   #681
hkskyline
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Airport; Authority; close to; mainland; agreement
Joseph Lo
13 January 2005
South China Morning Post

An agreement set to be signed tomorrow could pave the way for a big Hong Kong investment in a key airport near Shanghai.

According to industry sources, the Airport Authority and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport have been discussing a possible partnership for several months, including management exchanges and a direct investment in Xiaoshan by the authority.

Reports have indicated that up to 49 per cent of Xiaoshan - about 180km southwest of Shanghai - was for sale for between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

The talks would be formalised tomorrow through an agreement to discuss in more detail the structure of a partnership, sources said.

Xiaoshan, which was completed in 2000 to replace an older airport in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, needs funds to expand its logistics facilities to better compete with other Yangtze River Delta airports for lucrative air freight.

The authority has been in talks during the past several years with other mainland airports, including Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, on similar partnerships, but without much success.

Airport Authority spokeswoman Connie Hon said it was continuing to speak to mainland airports on closer co-operation and that it was "not at liberty to disclose discussions with specific airports before agreements are reached".

However, an authority source said "it was highly probable that a memorandum of understanding between the Hangzhou and Hong Kong airports will be signed [tomorrow]".

"We've visited them and they have visited us. Still, with negotiations concerning mainland parties, you never know until you've watched them sign on the dotted line," the source said.

Xiaoshan's biggest competitive advantage lies in its closeness to Shanghai, where five-year-old Pudong International Airport is already congested.

Peter Harbison, the managing director of consultancy the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said: "The interesting thing is that there is an array of airports around Shanghai which are vying to be an alternative gateway to the Yangtze River Delta.

"Hangzhou is one alternative gateway and a convenient back door for airlines to mop up the excess traffic from Shanghai. So there's a lot of upside to the Hangzhou airport and it has the spare capacity to do it."

MASKargo, the cargo airline subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, is set to open a 3,000 square metre warehouse centre in Xiaoshan this month capable of handling about 110,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

Besides Xiaoshan, Nanjing, the largest city in Jiangsu province and about the same distance from Shanghai as Hangzhou, also has been cementing its place as an alternative Yangtze River Delta gateway in recent years.

Both Singapore Airlines and Martinair Cargo of the Netherlands operate from Nanjing Lukou International Airport.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 01:52 AM   #682
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincent
i hope there are connection between the T1 and T2 other than the APM.
Maybe when HKIA really get busy. The T2 can be used for national flight only (within China), and the T1 is used for international only.

Gakei, i am pretty sure the arrangement are well thought out during the design stage.
I am not sure, but I don't think that it is another passenger terminal, but it is like a expansion of the existing terminal in another building in terms of ground transportation check-in facilities. Correct me if I am wrong!


perception of HKIA in 2040

Notice the area that this project is about is only the Sky City development in the left bottom of the picture. The 2nd terminal is yet to be developed and it is the "X" shaped midfield terminal.
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Old January 13th, 2005, 11:47 AM   #683
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Planned to new build of Terminal 2 @ HK Int'l Airport

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Old January 13th, 2005, 03:32 PM   #684
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13 January 2005
Corporate Press Release
Cathay Pacific to commence services to Xiamen

Cathay Pacific Airways today announced that it intends to commence passenger services to Xiamen from 28 February 2005.The airline will operate three return services a week, departing Hong Kong and Xiamen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Cathay Pacific resumed services to Beijing with three weekly flights on 2 December 2003 after a break of 13 years, and upgraded to a daily service last month. The airline has also been granted rights to operate a second daily service to Beijing from the start of the Summer 2005 season. Two days ago, the airline announced it intends to operate a daily freighter service to Shanghai from 27 January 2005.

With more services the airline will be able to strengthen Hong Kong as a global hub and gateway to the Mainland by creating more of the same-carrier connections across its international network that customers prefer.

Cathay Pacific General Manager Sales Hong Kong & China Clement Lam said: “Xiamen has long held strong overseas connections. With three new weekly services to the city, Cathay Pacific will offer passengers greater choice in providing same-carrier connections through Hong Kong to points across the region and up to 90 destinations around the world. Our service will further strengthen Hong Kong as a global gateway to the Chinese Mainland, especially Fujian province.”
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Old January 13th, 2005, 05:06 PM   #685
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airport Addict
It is possible tave a look at previous incarnations of the Sky Plaza under www.som.com, going to "Transportation" and then "Hong Kong Int'l Airport" .

Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that what is being erected now is a much scaled-down version of the SOM study.
BTW the latest overall design is quite ugly without creativity. It is just a rectangular building with a dull flat roof. It looks totolly different from the current curve arch designed terminal. Don't understand why AAHK will choose such a design.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 01:21 AM   #686
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Thursday January 13, 11:33 AM
HK Dragonair Posts Record Passenger, Cargo Growth In '04

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Hong Kong carrier Dragonair said Thursday its passenger numbers and cargo volume rose in the double digits in 2004.

The airline flew more than 4.5 million passengers in 2004, up 49.2% over 2003, and it carried 342,413 tons of cargo, up 26.8%.

Its total number of flights rose 44.3% to 35,616 last year, it said.

"Because of the low base figure in 2003 resulting from the SARS outbreak, it was clear that, barring unforeseen circumstances, our figures would be higher," said Hui. "Clearly, we are now back on track."

However, Hui said higher global crude prices and competition remains a concern for the company.

"The high price of oil throughput made it a challenging period for us, and it appears that higher prices will be with us for some time to come," Hui said.

"At the same time, passenger yields continued to be an issue."
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Old January 14th, 2005, 06:36 AM   #687
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United Airlines to Expand Nonstop Service to China with Three More Flights from Chicago to Hong Kong
United’s added service will offer travelers more flexibility and continues Asia-Pacific service expansion

Chicago, January 13, 2005 -- United Airlines, the leading U.S. carrier to China, is expanding its service to Hong Kong to meet growing customer demand. United in June will launch three more flights between Chicago and Hong Kong, for a total of 10 nonstop flights per week.

“As the only U.S. carrier with nonstop Chicago-Hong Kong service, we have seen increased customer demand for this service during the past 18 months,” said Mark Schwab, Vice President-Pacific. “United is pleased to further improve our service by providing additional flights to Hong Kong for customers and cargo traveling from the U.S. Midwest and East Coast.”

Beginning June 7, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, United Flight 829 will depart Chicago at 3:10 p.m. and arrive in Hong Kong at 7:45 p.m. the next day. Starting June 10, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, United Flight 828 will depart Hong Kong at 10:10 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 11:40 a.m. the same day. Customers who book and fly a paid, qualifying roundtrip flight through united.com by Dec. 31, 2005, will earn a booking bonus of 1,000 bonus miles.*

“These extra flights will add welcome capacity to the Chicago-Hong Kong market,” said Schwab. “United remains committed to offering our customers more convenient, award-winning travel options and more cargo capacity between the United States and the Pacific.”

The increased flight frequencies will add up to 50 tons of extra cargo space nonstop to Hong Kong. United will operate this combined passenger and cargo service using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft configured with 14 United First Suite® seats, 73 United Business® seats and 260 United Economy® class seats, including 88 Economy Plus® seats.

These added flights are part of United’s ongoing strategy to expand its international service for its customers. In the Asia-Pacific region, the airline in 2004 added new daily nonstop flights between Chicago and Osaka; Chicago and Shanghai; and San Francisco and Beijing. In addition, United launched the first scheduled flight of a U.S. airline to Vietnam in almost 30 years on Dec. 9, 2004. The service runs daily from San Francisco via Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly called Saigon).

This year, nonstop service from San Francisco to Nagoya, Japan, is scheduled to begin in March, and United is seeking the governmental approval to provide daily service between San Francisco and Guangzhou, China, in spring 2005.
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Old January 14th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #688
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By AirCanon @ HKADB :





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Old January 14th, 2005, 08:07 PM   #689
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Corporate Press Release
13 January 2005
DRAGONAIR ANNOUNCES RECORD YEAR IN 2004

(HONG KONG) Dragonair has announced that 2004 was a record year for passenger numbers and cargo volumes, with double-digit year-on-year increases in both.

"The performance overall last year was very strong, although the operating environment was quite challenging," said Dragonair CEO Stanley Hui.

The airline flew more than 4.5 million passengers during 2004, a 49.2% jump over 2003, and over one million more than its previous annual record, set in 2002.

"Because of the low base figure in 2003 resulting from the SARS outbreak, it was clear that, barring unforeseen circumstances, our figures would be higher this year," said Mr. Hui. "Clearly, after the setback in 2003, we are now back on track."

During the year, Dragonair increased frequencies to Shanghai to 87 a week, and launched services to Tokyo in April. The airline also took delivery of two A320s and one A330, which helped underpin the growth.

Passenger figures for the last month of the year also posted a rise year-on-year, of 14.5%. Month-on-month there was a slight drop, of 1.7%.

It was also a record year for cargo.

"Continued growth in demand from the main manufacturing regions in China propelled cargo volumes to a 26.8% increase for the year," Mr. Hui said. "The outlook for 2005 remains bright."

For the year, Dragonair carried 342,413 tonnes of cargo, compared with a total of 269,981 in 2003. December figures were also up, on a year-on-year and month-on-month basis by 34.3% and 2.1%, respectively.

"Last year our cargo division set a string of records, with December posting our second-highest uplift level," explained Mr. Hui. "The UK and Japan markets were particularly robust in the month."

Dragonair expanded its cargo network in 2004, adding the key cargo hubs of Frankfurt and London Stansted, and the Yangtze River Delta city of Nanjing. It took delivery of one Boeing B747-200 and one wet-leased Airbus A300B.

"The high price of oil throughout the year made it a challenging period for us, and it appears that higher prices will be with us for some time to come," he said. "At the same time, passenger yields continued to be an issue."
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Old January 14th, 2005, 11:16 PM   #690
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HK airport wins race to buy a strategic stake in Zhejiang hub
Olivia Chung and Danny Chung, Hong Kong Standard
January 15, 2005

Hong Kong's Airport Authority will take a stake of over 30 percent in Hangzhou's Xiaoshan International Airport, but neither side has divulged the cost or nature of the agreement.

A spokesman for the airport in the capital of Zhejiang province said Hong Kong had overcome competition from Copenhagen and Singapore to become its strategic partner.

"We chose Hong Kong because of its good management and international network," he said.

Neither side would reveal how much the investment will cost, what Xiaoshan Airport will do with the money, or what form cooperation between them will take.

On the SAR side, Deputy Secretary for Economic Development Wilson Fung said the airports are at work on a framework agreement.

"They're discussing a framework agreement, a non-binding one," he said. "They're talking about the framework first, with the details to be discussed later.

"Signing a framework does not mean there will immediately be a a formal agreement.

"The small details have to be discussed as well," he said.

Xiaoshan Airport handled 6.4 million passengers last year and its business is growing steadily, provincial vice-governor Zhong Shan said on Friday while promoting Hong Kong-Zhejiang Week.

He said an agreement on the airport sale would be signed on Monday at the inaugural ceremony of the trade promotion event.

Local media have reported that Xiaoshan Airport, open since 2000, needs funds to complete its second phase and logistics facilities to allow it to compete better with other airports in the Yangtze River Delta.

The Airport Authority said it continues to discuss partnerships with regional airports.

In the past, it has mentioned Macau, Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as likely candidates.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 09:31 AM   #691
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Hong Kong Airport Authority in talks on China airport deal - report

Updated: 13 January 2005

HONG KONG (AFX)- Hong Kong Airport Authority is set to sign a deal tomorrow that could pave the way for a big investment by the authority in Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, the South China Morning Post said.

The report cited sources as saying the two sides have been in talks for several months on a possible partnership, including management exchanges and a direct investment in Hangzhou Xiaoshan by the authority.

It said that up to 49 pct of Hangzhou Xiaoshan is for sale for 2.5-3.0 bln hkd.

Xiaoshan, which was completed in 2000 to replace an older airport in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, needs funds to expand its logistics facilities to compete better with other Yangtze River Delta airports for lucrative air freights.

An Airport Authority spokeswoman said talks are continuing but declined to give details about the discussion.

Xiaoshan's biggest competitive advantage is its promixity to Shanghai, where five-year old Pudong International Airport is already congested, the report said.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 07:33 PM   #692
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AA Chairman welcomes Chief Executive’s Policy Address
AA Press Release

(Hong Kong, 12 January 2005) – The Chairman of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA), Dr Victor Fung, welcomed the Chief Executive’s policy initiatives to enhance Hong Kong’s role as a centre for international finance, logistics and trade.

He said Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will build on its existing competitive advantages in support of the four core industries of Hong Kong. AA’s efforts to extend its home market to the Pearl River Delta will promote the flows of people and goods within the region, contributing to the economic development of the Pan- Pearl River Delta Region.

Dr Fung supported the Chief Executive’s policy to develop Hong Kong into a regional logistics hub, and welcomed the Government’s initiatives to further open up the aviation network to allow more flights between Hong Kong and major Mainland and overseas cities. The catchment area of HKIA has been extended to cover the Pearl River Delta.

He added that AA looks forward to working closely with the Government to formulate measures to enhance the competitiveness of the aviation industry.

With the next stage of work to commence for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, HKIA’s position as the multi-modal transportation hub will be further enhanced.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 07:36 PM   #693
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By Bowen @ HKADB :

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Old January 15th, 2005, 08:56 PM   #694
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Perhaps the most beautiful airport of the world. I love it.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #695
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Taiwan, China clinch landmark deal on charter flights
By Tan Ee Lyn

MACAU, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Taiwan and China reached a landmark deal on Saturday to allow non-stop charter flights over the Chinese New Year holidays, a move which could ease tensions and improve ties between the bitter political rivals.

The one-off deal will allow the first direct flights between the foes since 1949, and could mark a step towards ending a decades-old ban on direct air links.

"In a very short time, in a cordial atmosphere, we have come to an agreement," Pu Zhaozhou, executive director of China's Civil Aviation Association, told a joint news conference after talks in the southern Chinese territory of Macau.

However, while the flights will be non-stop, they will still have to go through Hong Kong or Macau airspace.

"The flights have to go through Hong Kong but they don't have to land," said Mike Lo, chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association.

Forty-eight flights will be allowed under the agreement, beginning on Jan. 29 and ending on Feb. 20, Pu said. He did not specify whether the first would take off from China or Taiwan.

Taiwan has banned direct air and shipping links with the mainland since the Nationalists lost the Chinese civil war to the communists in 1949 and fled to the island.

Travellers between Taiwan and the mainland must now fly via a third destination, usually Hong Kong or Macau on China's southern coast, adding four hours to what should be an hour-long flight.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has threatened to invade the self-governing, democratic island of 23 million people if it formally declares statehood.

Despite often highly charged political tensions, trade and investment across the narrow Taiwan Strait has boomed since the late 1980s, with about one million Taiwanese now living and working in China.

Taiwan businesspeople, who have poured up to $100 billion into China, have long clamoured for direct flights. Millions of Chinese rush home for family reunions at the start of the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 9 this year.

"This is a specific arrangement for New Year charter flights, but it is also a symbol of showing good will from both sides," said Andrew Yang, secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, a prominent private thinktank in Taipei.

"It is a win-win situation for both sides as China very much wants to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese and appear to the general public that it is doing whatever it can to resolve differences or disputes peacefully," Yang said.

"Hopefully, it will be continued after the New Year if there has been some minimum trust established between the two sides."

Taiwan, under pressure from the United States to reconcile with China, has been eager for a resumption of quasi-official dialogue, which has been frozen since 1999.

During the 2003 Lunar New Year holidays, charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei were commissioned to Taiwan airlines only and they had to fly empty to Shanghai to pick up passengers.

China refused to allow similar flights last year, fearing it could help win re-election for Taiwan's pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian.

The new agreement will allow flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on the mainland and Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, with each side allowed to select six airlines for the routes.

From the mainland, airline executives have listed Air China Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd., Xiamen Airlines and China Eastern Air as possible candidates.

Taiwan airlines could include China Airlines Ltd., EVA Airways Corp., Trans Asia Airways, Far East Air Transport Corp., Mandarin Airlines and UNI Airways Corp.

The deal could dent business for Hong Kong airlines Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Dragonair, which is majority held by China National Aviation Corp..

The "golden route" between Taipei and Hong Kong is Asia's busiest and one of Cathay's most profitable as many of the travellers between Taiwan and China transit in Hong Kong.

(Additional reporting by Richard Dobson in Taipei).
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Old January 15th, 2005, 09:15 PM   #696
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continued ...







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Old January 15th, 2005, 09:42 PM   #697
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Ocean Airlines inaugurates Brescia — Hong Kong route
8/1 2005

From Brescia Montichiari Airport twice a week departures to the Far East

Montichiari (Brescia) – This morning, at 13.30, the first Ocean Airlines flight to Hong Kong took off from Brescia Montichiari Airport. The Italian All Cargo Airline has inaugurated a route of enormous strategic importance, commencing from today with two weekly return flights connecting the Gabriele D’Annunzio with the International Airport of Chek Lap Kok, the main gateway to the markets of the Far East.

“Our services from Brescia Montichiari to Hong Kong — says Michael Meagher, CEO of Ocean Airlines – is the first of many services we plan to operate from this airport to service the increasing demand from Italian customers for direct air cargo services from Italy to long haul destinations”.

The route will be serviced by Boeing 747—230 Freighters, capable of transporting over 100 tons of goods. The aircraft will depart from Brescia on Saturdays and Tuesdays at 1045hrs and arrive in Hong Kong at 0500hrs local time the following day. The return flights leave Hong Kong (Sundays and Wednesdays) at 0730hrs local time and arrive in Brescia at 1545hrs on the same day.

These will be regular charter flights, approved by ENAC and by the CAD (Civil Aviation Department) Hong Kong, and will operate while waiting for the definitive traffic rights expected for Summer 2005.

In the meantime, the company awaits the delivery of its second Boeing 747 in Montichiari purchased from Lufthansa. “With the arrival of our second aircraft at the end of January – Meagher explains – the destinations we will service from Brescia Montichiari airport will increase further. Our medium to long term plan is that within 2 years we will have five 747 all cargo aircraft, and I look forward to working with our customers in developing a global network of services from Italy.”

Ocean Airlines SpA is a new Italian airline for cargo transport. Its shareholders are Austrian investors (Finrep, 80%) and Italians (Ital Aviation, 20%). The industrial plan sees an initial investment of 150 million Euro in the 2004—2006 period. The expected turnover after the first year of activity is of over 100 million Euro. As its operative base Ocean Airlines has chosen the Gabriele D’Annunzio Airport in Brescia Montichiari.
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Old January 15th, 2005, 11:46 PM   #698
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Xiaoshan stake boost for Airport Authority
Annette Chiu and Joseph Lo
15 January 2005
South China Morning Post

The decision to invest in Hangzhou's Xiaoshan International Airport should enhance Airport Authority Hong Kong's (AA) financial attractiveness in the run-up to its proposed privatisation.

A senior Zhejiang official told reporters in Hong Kong yesterday that a commitment by the AA to buy more than 30 per cent of the mainland airport would be signed on Monday during the opening ceremony of Zhejiang Week.

The deal would help the Hong Kong airport operator tap into the fast-growing market for air freight and travel in the Yangtze River Delta, and boost its growth potential for investors as the authority prepared for a listing on the stock exchange, industry consultants said.

"I don't see any special synergies between Hangzhou and Chek Lap Kok," said a British-based aviation consultant who works with several mainland airlines and airports. "But I do see it as a possible investment opportunity for Hong Kong - the AA has, as we all know, been looking for opportunities to invest in mainland airports as a way of ensuring that it benefits from their rapid growth."

Zhong Shan, the vice-governor of Zhejiang province, said the agreement would cover strategic co-operation between the two airports, as well as Hong Kong's intent to invest in Xiaoshan airport.

"It is a strategic co-operation between the two airports. AA will invest in Xiaoshan and it will take a stake of more than 30 per cent," he said, declining to give more details. The two sides will unveil the deal on Monday.

Reports have indicated that up to 49 per cent of Xiaoshan - about 180km southwest of Shanghai - was for sale for between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

Mr Zhong is in Hong Kong with a trade delegation, seeking to secure investors for various projects in the wealthy coastal province.

AA officials remained quiet on the subject of Xiaoshan yesterday. Spokeswoman Connie Hon said: "I'm aware of what the vice-governor said, but there's nothing I can say at this moment except to confirm that we have been in talks with a number of potential airport partners in the mainland."

Authority sources said privately earlier in the week that the deal with Xiaoshan was imminent, and would include "management co-operation, as well as investment from us".

The authority has been seeking for several years to invest in a mainland airport to give it a higher valuation as a potential growth stock when it lists.

Traffic at Xiaoshan has doubled since the airport's opening. By comparison, Chek Lap Kok has registered 12 per cent growth in aircraft movements over the same period, albeit from a much higher base of comparison.

Peter Harbison, the managing director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said Xiaoshan represented "an opportunity for the AA to align itself with" a rapidly growing mainland airport.

"For the AA, this deal means that it will be supporting an additional airport to provide financial growth and marketing ability for itself," Mr Harbison said.

Still, the AA has not had much success in finding such a partner until now.

Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, which the AA has wooed most intensively for its domestic connections, has viewed Hong Kong as more a competitor than potential partner.

Xiaoshan, which was the mainland's 11th-largest airport by passenger and freight throughput in 2003, was completed in 2000 to replace an older facility in Hangzhou.

The airport, which earned about 60 million yuan last year, now has flights to about 120 cities, including eight international routes, mainly to Japan and South Korea. Its biggest competitive advantage lies in its closeness to Shanghai, where five-year-old Pudong International Airport is already congested.

Last year, Xiaoshan handled about six million passengers and 160,000 tonnes of cargo, compared with about three million passengers and 87,000 tonnes of cargo in 2001.

However, it also needs funds to expand its logistics facilities to compete with other regional airports vying to be alternative gateways to Shanghai, such as Nanjing Lukou International Airport, which is about the same distance from Shanghai to the northwest.

MASKargo, the cargo airline subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, is set to open a 3,000 square metre warehouse centre in Xiaoshan this month that is capable of handling about 110,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

The government is engaged in public consultations on the airport authority's proposed privatisation and listing plans, which are expected to take place by the end of this year.
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Old January 16th, 2005, 07:41 AM   #699
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South China Morning Post
January 16, 2005
Court battle looms over air crash
China Airlines 'furious' at public inquiry report blaming pilot for accident at Chek Lap Kok

Simon Parry



A five-year battle over the cause of the only fatal crash at Chek Lap Kok airport looks likely to go to the High Court after a public inquiry report concluded the pilot was responsible.

Sources say the Board of Review inquiry has submitted a report to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa largely backing the original Civil Aviation Department's disputed report into the crash of China Airlines flight CI642, in which three people died in 1999.

The airline - which argues that wind shear and other factors contributed to the crash - has been made aware of the conclusions and is considering seeking an unprecedented judicial review in the High Court, industry insiders say.

Officials at Taipei-based China Airlines were said by one source to be furious about the Board of Review's report. The source said the officials believe the report overlooked technical evidence and reached "illogical" conclusions.

The legal battle centres on a crash on August 22, 1999, when an MD-11 with more than 200 people on board flipped over and burst into flames after clipping the runway with a wing when it came in to land on a flight from Bangkok during Typhoon Sam.

After the original Civil Aviation Department report was challenged, the chief executive convened a Board of Review, and a three-man panel headed by magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung held a two-week public hearing in November 2003.

Its long-awaited report - expected by the panel's own timetable to be released in February last year but delayed without explanation - broadly supports the original conclusion that pilot Gerrardo Lettich was responsible, sources say.

It makes only "minor alterations" to the draft report, which has never been made public because China Airlines challenged it and forced the chief executive to convene a Board of Review hearing - the first of its kind in Hong Kong.

The report is also believed to have been dismissive of evidence given by China Airlines' expert witness at the hearing, US pilot Owen Evers, saying his evidence was presented in too favourable a light towards the airline.

According to sources, the report concludes - similarly to the original draft Civil Aviation Department accident report - that the accident happened because of Mr Lettich's inability to slow the rate of the descent of the plane as he tried to land during the typhoon.

However, China Airlines officials say this conclusion is not logical because it does not specify whether Mr Lettich's inability to control the descent was caused by his incompetence or factors beyond his control.

One source said that China Airlines believes the Board of Review "stepped outside its bounds and offered opinions which it wasn't entitled to under its terms of reference".

It is now considering seeking a judicial review over the report, taking the lengthy legal battle over the accident to yet another unprecedented stage. China Airlines received strong backing from the Hong Kong Airline Pilots Association when it challenged the Civil Aviation Department's original draft report.

It argued at the public hearing that the draft report was flawed because it had failed to take into account the weather and a possible wind shear it said contributed to the accident.

The airline said Mr Lettich, who never flew again after the accident and has now retired, had been made a scapegoat for the crash.

The dispute has led to calls from some quarters for an independent Air Accident Investigation Board to be set up in Hong Kong to conduct accident investigations, rather than giving the task to the department.

But the department is likely to see the Board of Review's conclusions as an exoneration of its original report and evidence that China Airlines was seeking to shift the blame away from its pilot.
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Old January 16th, 2005, 05:46 PM   #700
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HK 2004 air passengers up 35 pct, cargo volume up

HONG KONG, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Passenger traffic through Hong Kong's international airport jumped 35 percent in 2004 and continued growth in exports drove up cargo throughput, the Airport Authority said on Sunday.

The airport handled 37.1 million passengers last year, after numbers fell sharply in 2003 due to an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that hit Hong Kong hard.

Passenger numbers for last year were 8.2 percent higher than in 2002, before the SARS outbreak.

Strong demand for air cargo services drove cargo throughput up 17.4 percent to over 3.1 million tonnes in 2004.

Passenger numbers for the month of December totalled 3.35 million, an 11.5 percent rise from December 2003.

The airport handled 283,000 tonnes of cargo in December, up 14.1 percent from the same month in 2003.
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