March 13, 2016 / 1:01 PM / 4 years ago

Juneyao Air expects to triple fleet by 2020 -chairman

BEIJING, March 13 (Reuters) - Juneyao Airlines expects to nearly triple its fleet size by 2020 and orders for the new planes have already been placed, its chairman said on Sunday.

The Shanghai-based carrier and its low-cost subsidiary 9 Air will have 150 planes by 2020, up from 57 as of the end of 2015, Wang Junjin told reporters on the sidelines of China’s national parliamentary meeting in Beijing.

“Our seats will increase around 29 percent alone this year as more new planes arrive,” Wang said.

More people in China are travelling abroad, with more than 100 million people taking flights out of the country in 2014 and double-digit growth is expected to continue in the coming years.

Many Chinese carriers are offering long-haul services to destinations like San Jose and Nairobi from cities hundreds of miles from aviation hubs on the Chinese coast.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines and Spring Airlines all forecast earnings to have grown strongly in 2015. Juneyao Air has forecast an increase in net profit of up to 160 percent. In January-February, Juneyao Air’s revenue rose more than 40 percent from a the year-ago level.

Juneyao had been approached by several major global airline alliance groups, Wang said without naming any of the alliances. He did not rule out the possibility for Juneyao to join an alliance, but declined to be specific as talks are still going on.

Wang said he expected the growth momentum to continue into 2016, dismissing concerns about the China’s slowing economy.

“Some sectors in the economy are slowing but there are still quite a few bright spots,” he said.

“Only one out of three people in China gets to fly once every year nowadays. Even a primary school student can figure out the growth potential of the Chinese market.”

Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller in BEIJING. Editing by Jane Merriman

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