China will formally launch three revamped airline giants this week in the industry's biggest step yet towards global competitiveness, officials and state media said today (Wednesday).
China has long planned to set up a trio of giants by grouping nine airlines under flag carrier Air China, China Eastern and China Southern.
Industry experts had speculated that two recent fatal Chinese air crashes had stalled a consolidation begun last year with the three dominant aviation groups expected to emerge by the end of June.
A China Northern jet crash in May and an Air China crash in April killed 240 people, sparking concerns that the industry revamp might be put off.
But the new groups would be launched formally at a ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Friday, a spokesman for Civil Aviation Administration of China, the industry regulator told Reuters.
In addition, an aviation services group would be formed with three units handling fuel, information and materials, the semi-official China News Service said. Earlier plans had called for three separate companies to be set up.
No financial details of the reorganisations have yet been revealed, but airline executives have said the plan could include asset reshuffling, debt restructuring and job cuts.
In July, the State Council, China's cabinet, approved Air China's merger plans and state media said then the details of forming the China Eastern and China Southern groups had been submitted for government approval.
Under a blueprint unveiled earlier this year, China Eastern would take over debt-ridden China Northwest Air and small but profitable Yunnan Air.
China Southern is to merge with China Northern Airlines and Xinjiang Airlines.
"Air China will be the main subsidiary of the group and continue to use its own logo and name, while the two other firms will adopt the Air China colours and logo," a company spokesman said.
Air China president Wang Kaiyuan will be president of the group, the spokesman said.
Interesting times huh? I hope Air China revamp their logo too!!