[photopress:air_hainan_airlines.jpg,full,alignright]Grand China Airlines, the nation’s fourth-biggest, is flying. It comes after the merger of four air carriers, including Shanghai-listed Hainan Airlines, in a bid to compete with the top three national players in a market that continues to boom.
Grand China has started flights from Beijing with the first from the northeastern port city of Dalian. It plans to add flights gradually ahead of next year’s Beijing Olympic Games in August.
Preparations for the new carrier started in July, 2004, by consolidating operations of Hainan Airlines, Xinhua Airlines, Chang’an Airlines and Shanxi Airlines under a newly established parent group called Grand China Airlines.
The parent company is 48.6% held by the Hainan provincial government. United States financier George Soros owns 18.6% of the venture, while HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines, holds 32.8%.
Grand China is planning to use Beijing Capital International Airport as its base and perform both international and domestic passenger and cargo air transport business. The air carrier will also lease three Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Hainan Airlines,
The number of Chinese mainland airline passengers is expected to grow by an average of 14.5% per year to reach 270 million in 2010.
Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines are the biggest three airlines on the Chinese mainland. Air China has nearly half of the air-travel market in Beijing. Grand China Airlines is in with a chance but it has major competition. (Note our illustration shows a hostess on Hainan Airlines but as that is part of the new airline its use is excusable.)
Source: Shanghai Daily