China will take delivery on 241 new aircraft this year, many of which were ordered before the global economic slowdown, state media reported. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said these new planes will increase available passenger seats by 16%. However, demand for these seats is questionable. China’s airlines lost US$1.03 billion in the first 11 months of 2008, with Air China reporting a US$280 million loss in the third quarter alone. CAAC deputy head Yang Guoqing has encouraged carriers to cancel or delay orders for new aircraft and encouraged them to return leased aircraft. He also asked Chinese airlines to ground or sell older planes. About 192 billion people traveled by air in China last year, a 3.3% increase year on year but the growth rate has decreased 13% since 2006. Air cargo growth rates have exhibited a similar decline.
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