BEIJING, Jan. 26-- China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's three main carriers, plans to import 20 aircraft this year to start flying on more domestic and overseas air routes.
The new planes, including Airbus A320s, A321s and Boeing 737-700s, will be used to serve the regions operated by the airline's subsidiaries in Northwest China
and Yunnan Province, said company President Li Fenghua.
The firm's Yunnan subsidiary in the provincial capital of Kunming will get eight Boeing 737-700 planes for its new air routes within the province and throughout Southeast Asia.
Last year, the carrier added six planes to its northwest subsidiary in Xi'an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province,"which is expected to have more aircraft this year," Li said.
Xi'an and Kunming, two of China Eastern's four major bases, will be given priority in the carrier's strategic development plan, said Li, who is also the chairman of China Eastern Airlines Co Ltd.
"We will finish the restructuring of the two subsidiaries by merging their finances and assets into the group company so we can conduct integrated management," Li said.
The company will use its Kunming base to serve the aviation market in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) free trade zone and the Mekong River region.
Around 29 million passengers flew on China Eastern planes last year, 24 per cent of the nation's total, and its cargo business accounted for 30 per cent of China's total air cargo volume.
"Last year was a profitable one for us, but the specific profits will be announced after the board meeting," Li said.
China Eastern has signed a contract with Boeing Corporation to purchase six B737-700 aircraft worth 2 billion yuan(US$242 million), which will be delivered in 2006, according to company spokesman Zhang Ming. The imports will increase the airlines' Boeing fleet to 55 of its total 189 aircraft.
"Purchasing these planes aims to meet the growing demand from both the domestic and overseas aviation market over the next several years," said Luo Chaogeng, president of China Eastern Airlines Co Ltd.
Luo said the carrier will open more air routes this year to serve the booming domestic and overseas tourism market, as more and more Chinese people travel abroad.
(Source: China Daily)