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Air carriers want more cash

DOMESTIC carriers have called for more government cash to help the aviation industry survive the current financial crisis.

The industry lost 28 billion yuan (US$4 billion) last year when it was hit heavily by the snowstorms, the devastating earthquake and the financial crisis, Yang Guoqing, vice director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, has said at the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

Liu Shaoyong, chairman of China Eastern Airlines, called for a cash injection to help the country's third-largest largest carrier cut debts and enhance competitiveness.

China Eastern has already received 7 billion yuan from its state-owned parent, and the largest domestic carrier, China Southern Airlines, got 3 billion yuan last year.

"The government should help carriers ride out the economic storm by increasing cash injections, optimizing the network, speeding up reforms and allowing more flights across the Taiwan Strait," Liu said.

Kong Dong, chairman of Air China, also said the carrier was seeking a capital injection from the government.

He said the size of the financial aid should be at least the same as the 3 billion yuan received by China Southern.

China's aviation market reported single digit growth in air traffic last year for the first time in five years.

Passenger volume rose 3.3 percent to 192 million last year, compared to a rise of 16 percent in 2007, and cargo volume edged up 0.3 percent to 4 million tons compared to a rise of 13 percent in 2007.


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