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Difficult takeoff is predicted for Okay Airways
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IT will be difficult for Okay Airways, China's first private airline, to resume passenger flights as scheduled on January 15 because shareholders have not reached agreement on contracts, a senior official of the troubled carrier said yesterday. "We haven't technological problems with resuming the flights but shareholders are still discussing contract items," said Liu Jieyin, president of the Beijing-based carrier.

He didn't elaborate on these items but said the carrier needs 100 million yuan (US$14.6 million) to resume flights.

"One thing the shareholders have agreed is that we will resume operations as soon as possible," Liu told Shanghai Daily in a phone call.

Wan Junjin, the airline's legal representative and chairman of JuneYao Group, the biggest shareholder, last month applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China for suspension of passenger flights because of financial and management problems.

The regulator approved the application and ordered the company to suspend its services from December 15 to January 15 this year.

It is reported that Wang tried to consolidate his power in the carrier with the suspension and that he also wanted to sack Liu as the president.

This is one of the key items being discussed by shareholders.

"If the carrier can resume operations, my problem is easily solved," Liu said.

During the suspension, the carrier's partners - including airports, fuel suppliers and Fedex Express - all terminated their contracts with the airline, causing losses of at least 100 million yuan. Cooperation with Fedex Express could bring 200 million yuan to the carrier annually, Liu said in an earlier report. Okay Airways began cooperating with Fedex in 2006.

(Shanghai Daily January 9, 2009)

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