Chinese airlines expect to take delivery of 241 aircraft this year, including 16 delayed deliveries from last year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Although leases on 43 airplanes are expected to expire this year, available seats will increase by 16 percent with the addition of the new deliveries, CAAC said. According to CAAC deputy head Yang Guoqing, Chinese airlines received 120 aircraft last year, 14 fewer than planned, but increased the fleet to 1,254, up from 751 in 2005.
Because of the global economic downturn, Yang has urged airlines to cancel or delay orders, return leased aircraft and ground or sell older airplanes. He said CAAC would be cautious about approving new orders, because last year carriers lost more than $1.1 billion. In 2008 Chinese airlines carried 192 million passengers and 4.03 million tons of cargo, respectively increases of 3.3 percent up and 0.2 percent. In previous years growth averaged 15 percent.
“The environment for airlines is worsening and some have already fallen into insolvency,” Yang said. Although CAAC plans not to approve the establishment of any new airlines until next year, it will approve more commuter flights, like the Beijing-Shanghai express, to help airlines compete with high-speed rail services.