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Air China Plans Going Public

National flag carrier Air China is revving up to be listed in overseas stock markets, Air China's president Li Jiaxiang said on February 27.

"Air China has had the full capacity to be listed and the plan is in the pipeline," Li said, refusing to give the exact listing date and place.

However, the aviation power house is likely to be listed in Hong Kong in September, according to sources quoted in the 21st Century Business Herald.

"As an airline ranking top in air transport capacity in the country, Air China has created a good brand image in the civil aviation sector, and will take further actions in capital operation," Li said.

Forming partnerships with other foreign airlines as a development has been an Air China operational strategy, according to Li.

On March 28, Air China and Japan's ANA will commence code sharing and jointly operate 95 flights per week between Beijing and Tokyo/Osaka, and Shanghai and Tokyo/Osaka, Li told a press conference.

Air China and ANA signed a code-share agreement on February 26 on Sino-Japanese routes operated by both airlines, including cooperation on frequent flyer programs and airport lounge use.

ANA's 56 weekly flights from Tokyo, Narita and Osaka/Kansai to Beijing and Shanghai will carry the Air China code, while Air China's 39 weekly flights on the same routes will operate under Air China's and ANA's flight numbers.

Both airlines will also inaugurate flights between Hangzhou and Tokyo/Osaka on the summer schedule, bringing the total of code-share flights to 105 by April 21.

In addition to the code-share agreement, members of Air China's Companion Frequent Flyer Program and ANA Mileage Club members will be eligible to accrue mileage on the code-share flights and redeem them on any flight on each other's networks.

"The global aviation industry is growing from competition to cooperation, so airlines can boost their development only on the basis of sound partnerships," Li said.

Since the beginning of October last year, ANA and Air China have been operating a connecting service via Beijing between Tokyo/Narita and the Chinese domestic cities of Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Changchun.

The service is designed to facilitate onward domestic travel in China for passengers arriving from Japan, and for those passengers traveling to Japan from the above cities.

"Demand for air traffic is forecast to grow in line with a quickly expanding Chinese economy, and both airlines will be able to play a greater role in that growth thanks to the their cooperation," Li said.

Comprehensive restructuring and consolidation of the civil aviation industry of China in 2003 brought new opportunities for the development of Air China.

To date, Air China has already signed individual code-share cooperation agreements with over 60 international or regional airlines, including Lufthansa, United Airlines, Asiana, Finnair, Austrian, SAS, Turkish and Dragon Air.

(China Daily February 28, 2004)

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