China Southern Airlines is close to completing a phased takeover of China Northern Airlines and Xinjiang Airlines, with its parent company soon due to hand over the smaller carrier's assets to it.

Guangzhou-based China Southern says its parent company, China Southern Air Holding (CSAH), "is ramping up its consolidation operations with the main industrial properties of China [Northern] and Xinjiang Airlines to be injected into China Southern Airlines Company Limited by the end of 2003".

It says that after this is carried out, the takeover plan "will finally be completed". China Southern is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but CSAH and the two smaller airlines are not publicly traded.

China Southern is one of three major Chinese airlines being expanded through takeovers of other carriers under a sweeping government-backed consolidation effort that began several years ago.

In October 2002 CSAH acquired the assets of China Northern and Xinjiang from other state-owned bodies, after which China Southern began integrating their operations into its own. Both China Northern and Xinjiang now operate all their flights under China Southern's flight codes, while aircraft are being progressively repainted in the larger airline's colours.

Source: Flight International