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March 6, 2010

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Datian buys majority in Okay Airways

THE majority shareholder of Okay Airways Co, China's first private airline, has changed ownership after a private logistics company took a 71.4 percent stake in the unit.

Wang Shusheng, chairman of Tianjin Datian W. Group Co, has taken over as chairman and legal representative of Okay Airways from Wang Junjin, chairman of Juneyao Group, said a statement by Okay Airways.

Datian paid about 200 million yuan (US$29.3 million) for the 71.4 percent stake in Beijing Okay Traffic and Energy Investment Co, which had a 63 percent stake in Okay Airways.

In February 2006, Juneyao bought a 71.4 percent stake in Beijing Okay Traffic and Energy Investment.

The latest announcement ended a tussle between Juneyao, an aviation, property and food group, and four other smaller shareholders of Okay Airways, which believed that Juneyao only paid part of its investment.

Juneyao applied to suspend operations at Okay Airways in November 2008 after consultations failed to resolve the dispute. Operations resumed in January 2009.

"I will fully use my resources and experience in logistics and tourism to develop Okay Airways into one of the best airlines in China," Wang Shusheng said.

Datian has 33 statistics delivery centers, 23 international freight forwarding subsidiaries and seven duty-free warehouses nationwide. It sold a 50 percent stake in a joint venture with FedEx and all its express delivery business to FedEx for US$400 million in 2006.

Okay Airways, which has 11 passenger and cargo aircraft, has transported 3.3 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo since it was launched in March 2005, it said.

Chinese private airlines experienced a hard time last year because of slumping business and fund shortages amid the financial crisis.

East Star Airlines, a debt-laden private airline based in central China's Wuhan City, went into bankruptcy in August 2009.


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