Government foundation to sell off part of its 70% stake in Taiwan's national airline

The government foundation that owns more than 70% of Taiwan's China Airlines (CAL) will sell off up to 30% of the carrier within the next few months.

The China Aviation Development Foundation (CADF) says 20-30% of the national carrier will be sold off by the end of this year to a "capable strategic investor".

The crash in May of a CAL Boeing 747-200, which killed 225 people, was the airline's fourth fatal accident since 1994. It led to fresh calls for ownership changes.

Transport and communications minister Lin Ling-san, who supports a share sale, took over the chairmanship of CADF after the incident.

Following the crash of a CAL Airbus A300-600R near Taipei in 1998, CADF promised to sell half its stake in the carrier to bring in foreign management expertise. But the plans were dropped after the CADF said there was a lack of foreign airline interest.

Many analysts speculated at the time that the foundation, which is a semi-private body controlled by the government, was unwilling to allow a foreign carrier to have too much control over the national airline.

Financial holding company China Development Financial Holding has expressed interest in acquiring CAL and merging it with two smaller carriers, TransAsia Airways and Far Eastern Air Transport, in which it holds stakes.

Its plan would probably please the Taiwanese government, which has called for mergers among the country's second-tier carriers, currently suffering from heavy domestic competition.

Source: Flight International