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Domestic carriers may look to delay delivery of new planes

CHINESE carriers will review their plans to purchase more aircraft because of the changing market conditions and some may delay deliveries, said the director of China's aviation watchdog yesterday.

Carriers will negotiate with aircraft suppliers about the adjustment, such as choosing smaller cargo aircraft instead of larger ones, Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said in Beijing yesterday.

"We respect all signed contracts for aircraft orders," Li said.

Both Boeing Co and Airbus SAS, the world's largest plane makers, predicted a second annual drop in orders this year as the recession quashes travel demand and aircraft financing tightens.

Giovanni Bisignani, director of the International Air Transport Association, predicted Boeing and Airbus could see airlines defer or cancel half the jet deliveries scheduled for this year.

In February, domestic airlines carried 16 percent less international passengers compared with a year earlier, and the international cargo volume declined 28 percent, Li said.

He estimated that international passenger and cargo volumes would drop significantly this year.

Luo Zhuping, board secretary of China Eastern Airlines, said last week the carrier is in talks with plane suppliers about canceling some orders. It will compensate the suppliers.

The carrier is aiming to expand capacity by 5 percent this year, from a previously planned 13 percent.

China's aviation watchdog has issued a raft of stimulus measures to boost struggling domestic carriers.

It has urged carriers to cancel or postpone plane deliveries due this year and park unnecessary planes, retire old ones and return aircraft leased from overseas.

China is expected to take delivery of 241 planes this year, including 16 delayed orders from 2008, said the CAAC.


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