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Airline expands transit routes to boost revenue

CHINA Eastern Airlines plans to develop revenue sources and spur demand by opening 900 more transit routes and charging higher fees on special seats to fight the economic downturn.

The first row of seats in economy class and seats beside emergency exits are more popular because they offer more room, so the carrier is considering offering a smaller discount on these seats.

A marketing official from the country's third-largest carrier said yesterday the tickets for those seats will be sold at a 30-percent discount if other seats in economy class are sold at 40 percent discount.

There are about 10 such seats on most planes and the tickets will only be sold on the carrier's Website. The plan targets high-end customers who can't afford business class during the financial turmoil, the official said.

The carrier has also added 900 more transit routes based on its existing 293 domestic direct routes to attract more passengers without increasing capacity.

Passengers can enjoy a lower ticket price on the transit routes than other carriers' direct routes and China Eastern will also cancel or reduce direct flights on some unprofitable routes.

The Shanghai-based carrier has mapped out 256 cost-saving measures to reduce spending by 3 billion yuan (US$438 million) this year.

It has secured a 7-billion-yuan cash injection from the central government and won credit lines totaling 35 billion yuan from the Agricultural Bank of China, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co and the Bank of Communications Co in the past two months.

Liu Shaoyong, chairman of the carrier, said it would reduce capacity growth to 5 percent this year from a previously planned 13 percent. The airline expects a 10-percent growth in passenger volume this year.


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