Consolidation within the Chinese airline industry looks set to move forward again with China Southern of Guangzhou, the country's largest carrier, closing on a takeover of Urumqi-based China Xinjiang Airlines.

Flight International's sister online news service, Air Transport Intelligence, says China Southern is close to finalising the deal following the appointment as its president of Wang Chang Shun, currently a vice-president with Xinjiang.

Xinjiang operates a fleet of about 20 aircraft, including ATR 72 turboprops, Boeing 737-300s, Boeing 757-200s, Ilyushin Il-86s and Tupolev Tu-154s.

The merger move follows similar efforts among China's 30-plus carriers following a call from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for the 10 airlines under its wing to merge into three - led by Air China, China Eastern and China Southern. Apart from the 'Big Three', CAAC controls China Northern, China Northwest, China Southwest, China Xinjiang, CNAC-Zhejiang, Great Wall Airlines and Yunnan Airlines.

In August, China Southern's parent group acquired Zhongyuan Airlines, while China Eastern has announced plans to buy Great Wall. Hainan Airlines is to take over Changan Airlines, while Shandong Airlines has moved to take over Shanxi Airlines and is in talks with China Northwest. China Northern is reportedly being targeted by China Southern.

Source: Flight International