China Eastern spends big during Shanghai event

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China Eastern Air Holding Co Ltd, a centrally administered State carrier, signed more than $2.5 billion worth of procurement orders during the ongoing sixth China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday — a record for the company during the annual event, it said.

A total of 14 contracts were inked between the Shanghai-based airline and 13 companies from nine countries and regions, including Chile, Turkiye, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Russia, Germany, Switzerland and the United States, said Wang Zhiqing, chairman of the company, which operates China Eastern Airlines.

"The CIIE displays China's resolution in further opening-up and presents the great opportunities of the Chinese market to the world," Wang said.

The contracts cover procurement and maintenance of aviation materials and engines, supply of aviation fuel, in-flight meals, seafood and agricultural products from countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, he added.

Against the backdrop of a steady recovery in Chinese aviation, the company currently operates 3,076 flights on average daily, up 7 percent from that in 2019, said Cheng Guowei, vice-general manager of China Eastern Airlines.

The carrier looks to restore its international flights to 80 percent of the 2019 level by the end of this year, Cheng said.

"Such expansion has created new procurement requirements, as we strive to enhance safety and operational efficiency with new products, new technologies and new services, and offer passengers a safer, more comfortable and greener air travel experience," Cheng added.

In addition to making procurements related to its core business, China Eastern has also placed orders for king crabs worth $1 billion from Russia and $500 million worth of orders for salmon from Chile.

The products are projected to better satisfy Chinese consumers' demand for higher-quality food, Cheng said.

During previous CIIEs, China Eastern had purchased some $100 million worth of cherries from Chile, and the carrier's quick supply chain and high transportation efficiency boosted the popularity of the product in China, Cheng said.

Referring to BRI cooperation, Cheng said some $1.58 billion worth of contracts were inked between China Eastern and companies from economies involved in the BRI, with the contract value accounting for more than 60 percent of the deals signed so far during the CIIE this year, Cheng said.

"In the future, we will choose more high-quality products from markets involved in the BRI, and seek a bigger role in promoting the development of the BRI," Cheng said.

China Eastern will bring Chinese consumers more premium fresh products from across the world, and will seek more cooperation opportunities with global enterprises, the carrier said.

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