Air China will accelerate talks with Cathay Pacific Airways regarding the formation of an air cargo joint venture based in Shanghai, the South China Morning Post reported. The venture is intended to mount a stronger challenge to China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, which are set to merge this year. Air China board secretary Huang Bin said the airline will boost its cooperation with Star Alliance members to compete more effectively on a global basis while also speeding up cooperation with Cathay in Shanghai. Air China posted a first-half net profit of US$424.4 million, up 155% year-on-year on the back of rebounding domestic demand and lower fuel costs. Huang said that international demand on most routes, save for American routes, had recovered. However, despite substantial price cuts for business class tickets, the segment has yet to show any signs of recovery.