December 4, 2008

OK Air to suspend passenger flights

OK Air, China's first privately owned carrier, says it will suspend passenger flights for one month beginning Dec. 15 because of financial and other problems.

Xinhua news agency quoted company spokeswoman Hang Jing the passenger sector accounts for 80 percent of the domestic airline's business.

OK Air Chairman Wang Junjin said the airline's cargo business, which has a linkage to FedEx, won't be affected by the decision, Xinhua reported. He said there will be no layoffs among the company's 800 employees during the suspension period.

Shanghai's Junyao Group owns 63 percent of the airline, which has five Boeing 737 passenger and three Boeing 737 cargo jets as well as three Chinese-made planes, the report said. OK Air became the country's first private carrier in 2005.

Xinhua said the airline had projected a passenger volume of 1.2 million this year. However, it said, volume in the first nine months was about 710,000.

There are four other privately owned airline companies in China.