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Domestic Airlines Preparing for Post-WTO Market
While domestic airlines are busy preparing for the country's accession to the World Trade Organization, foreign airlines have shown even stronger interest in China's civil aviation market.

"The market is on the verge of a boom, due to the country's fast economic growth and its pending accession to WTO," China Daily quoted Robert Webb, a general council member of the British Airways, as saying.

British Airways currently offers 18 flights to China every week, including two daily direct flights to Hong Kong and four weekly direct flights to Beijing.

"We have interest in operating flights between London and Shanghai, as well as flights between London and other cities in China's western areas," Webb said.

Air France has continually expanded its service to China over the past few years. Its frequency to Beijing increased from four flights a week in 1997 to the current daily service. Many airlines in the United States have plans to fly to China. Insiders said that US airlines services to China are expected to increase to 54 flights a week in the next few months.

Facing the fierce foreign competition, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has pushed domestic airlines to consolidate.

"China has already decided to establish three major airline groups on the basis of three major carriers, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines," said Ma Tiesheng, director of CAAC's General Affairs Office.

Along with the three major carriers, seven smaller airlines would be merged into the new groups to strengthen the industry.

(People's Daily 10/22/2000)

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