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Joy Air prepares to take flight

CHINA Eastern Airlines is a step closer to launching its regional carrier Joy Air, which it is jointly setting up with China's biggest aerospace company, China Aviation Industry Corp (AVIC).

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has completed an initial review of the Xi'an-based Joy Air and plans to issue operational approval by June 15, after seeking public opinions, the administration said in a statement on its Website yesterday.

The new carrier, with a registered capital of 1 billion yuan (US$146 million), is 95 percent owned by AVIC, with 5 percent held by China Eastern, the country's third-largest carrier.

Lin Zuomin, general manager of AVIC, said the regional carrier will begin selling tickets and operate its first flight this month.

The carrier will initially use about 10 domestically made aircraft, including Modern Ark 60s and MA 600s, flying routes shorter than 600 kilometers. There are plans to expand the size of the fleet to 100 aircraft within eight years, and introduce ARJ21 jets.

The administration has approved the carrier to put three MA60 turboprop airplanes into use.

Shanghai-based China Eastern used to hold a 40 percent stake in Joy Air but transferred 35 percent to AVIC after loosing 14 billion yuan last year.

Joy Air is part of China Eastern's plans to develop Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, as a regional air hub together with Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.

On Sunday, China Eastern signed an agreement with Yunnan to set up a joint venture in Kunming as early as this year. China Eastern will hold 65 percent of the venture and the provincial government will take the balance.


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