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Hong Kong Airlines plans to place order for A380s
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) June 14, 2011

Hong Kong Airlines said Tuesday that it plans to place an order for an unspecified number of Airbus A380s at next week's Paris Air Show, as it looks expands its international network.

The carrier is likely to sign a letter of intent next week, outlining details of a deal that would make it the second carrier in the Greater China region to buy the double-decker superjumbo, spokeswoman Eva Chan told AFP.

"Our top-level executives are going over the terms with Airbus," she said. "(But) we have not yet decided on the details of the order."

The A380 -- the world's largest passenger jet with capacity for up to 853 passengers -- entered into service in 2007, breaking US rival Boeing's more than three decades of dominance of the jumbo jet market with the 747.

China Southern Airlines, the country's biggest carrier by fleet size, has ordered five A380s, with the first to be delivered later this year.

Hong Kong Airlines currently flies mainly short-haul regional routes between Hong Kong and destinations in Asia, including Thailand and Japan.

But in March, it signed a preliminary agreement for a monster deal with Boeing to purchase 38 wide-body jets, including 777 cargo planes and 787 Dreamliners, worth up to $8.5 billion at list prices.

The airline's plan to buy the superjumbo comes as Airbus has forecast that Asia will emerge as the world's biggest aircraft market by 2029, accounting for a third of worldwide deliveries as a growing middle class drives travel demand.

Within the next 20 years, the European plane-maker expects China to become the second biggest aviation market in the world.

China's air travel market is growing fast with a total of 267 million passenger trips in 2010, up 15.8 percent from the previous year, according to official figures.

Beijing will invest more than 1.5 trillion yuan ($230 billion) in its aviation industry over the next five years to meet surging demand, Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said in February.

China aims to expand its aircraft fleet to more than 4,500 planes by 2015 from over 2,600 at present and increase the number of commercial airports to 220 from the current 175.

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