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China, US Reach Deal to Expand Aviation Services

US and Chinese negotiators concluded an aviation agreement to double the number of airlines flying between the two countries and allow a nearly fivefold increase in flights over the next six years, officials said.

The US Transportation Department, which made the announcement, said the deal also allows US cargo airlines to establish hubs in China.

"This agreement recognizes the critical role of commercial aviation in the rapidly growing US-China trade relationship," Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

"This agreement represents a giant step forward in creating an international air transportation system that meets the needs of the new global marketplace."

The agreement was reached in Washington after four rounds of talks starting last February, the DOT said.

The last agreement to expand US-China air services was concluded in April 1999, when each country's carriers were allowed to increase their weekly flights in the market from 27 to 54, and each side was allowed to designate one additional airline, for a total of four, to serve the market.

The new agreement will allow five additional airlines from each country to serve the US-China market.

The United States may name one additional all-cargo airline, while China may name either a passenger or cargo airline, to start service later this year.

The other four new-entrant airlines may be either passenger or cargo carriers, with one new carrier entering the market in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The agreement also will allow an additional 195 weekly flights for each side -- 111 by all-cargo carriers and 84 by passenger airlines -- resulting in a total of 249 weekly flights at the end of a six-year phase-in period.

(Xinhua News Agency June 21, 2004)

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