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Juneyao preps for long-haul; 787 due Sept 2018

Juneyao Airlines will take its first Boeing 787-9 aircraft next September, and intends to deploy the type on intercontinental routes.

Speaking to reporters in Shanghai, Juneyao chairman Wang Junjin says the carrier has not made any rights applications for long-haul routes, but is evaluating possible destinations in Europe, Australia and the US.

The privately-owned carrier says its priority would be to launch these services out of its main base in Shanghai, and that it will also continue to build upon its secondary hub in Nanjing. He adds that Nanjing is strategic since it is an economic powerhouse located in the Pearl River Delta.

"We will also focus on building air bridges to push forward on the one belt one road initiative," says Wang. The Chinese full-service carrier brands itself as a "high-value carrier", and is scheduled to take three 787s, its first widebodies, in 2018.

Asked if he's concerned that traffic rights to the US have largely been taken up by other Chinese carriers, Wang says China is the largest aviation market in the world, and that it can still fly long-haul to Europe and Australia if such a situation occurs.

"In Europe we're still evaluating those places [impacted by] by One Belt, One Road. Destinations in eastern and northern Europe, we're both evaluating."

'One Belt, One Road' is a Chinese initiative to improve land connectivity in Central Asia through new infrastructure, as well as foster maritime links.

China and the US do not have an open skies policy, and US carriers have highlighted difficulties in securing viable slots at Chinese airports. They also urged US authorities to take the home carriers' "competitive disadvantages" into consideration when reviewing applications from Chinese carriers for US-China services.

China meanwhile only allows one Chinese carrier on each long-haul city-pair. State-owned China Eastern Airlines is the main carrier at Shanghai, and has rights to blue-chip destinations in the US and Europe, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris and London.

Wang however, is unperturbed: "Shanghai is a good base. The market is good, so wherever you fly, the percentage of success is high."

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