Hainan Airlines plans massive fleet boost

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am

Hainan Airlines, the mainland's fourth-biggest commercial carrier by fleet size, plans to add 20 to 30 planes in each of the five years after the group's restructuring, said Chen Feng, chairman of the airline's parent, HNA Group.

HNA has obtained government approval to form a holding unit, Grand China Air, consisting of Hainan Airlines, China Xinhua Airlines, Chang'an Airlines and Shangxi Airlines, Mr Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the 17th Communist Party Congress yesterday.

There were 130 planes under Grand China Air and the group aimed to expand the fleet to 240 to 250 in five years, Mr Chen said. It would order aircraft from Airbus and Boeing but had no plans to buy the super jumbo A380, he added.

Hainan Airlines announced on Thursday its order for eight A330-200 long-haul planes. It has two such planes that will fly between Beijing and Brussels and Budapest starting December.

Hainan Airlines is 19 per cent owned by US financier George Soros. Mr Chen said several international investors were interested in Grand China Air but declined to disclose names.

Separately, Mr Chen said HNA had obtained the official go-head to form a 50-50 venture with Taiwan's Shin Kong Life Insurance to sell the full range of insurance products in the mainland. The two firms would split the 800 million yuan initial investment equally and would also share management, he said.

The new insurance venture, which would be run independently from the aviation division, should start operations in the first half of next year, he said.

Despite its other non-aviation businesses such as logistics and hotels, Mr Chen said aviation would continue to account for at least 70 per cent of HNA's operations.

He said his company was not in a rush to expand into international routes as 80 per cent of those routes were now served by the three biggest carriers, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

Hainan Airlines' global network includes two European cities, Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea.

Flight plan

HNA group has secured state nod to form holding unit China Grand Air

Within five years, China Grand Air aims to expand its fleet from 130 planes at present to 250