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HNA Group buys 48% stake in French airline (2)

By Wang Wen and Li Xiang (China Daily)

08:26, October 25, 2012

Aigle Azur President Arezki Idjerouidene said the cooperation with China's fourth-largest airline company is a turning point for Aigle Azur.

"We hope to grow and develop together with HNA," he said, adding that the basis for a successful partnership with HNA is the similarity in the businesses of the two companies and the view they share on the prospects of the aviation industry.

The economic recession in the West has created difficulties for the aviation industry, but HNA is still positive about Aigle Azur's prospects.

"Aigle Azur is a well-operated company and it managed to make a profit even during the financial crisis," Tan said.

"We think investing in Aigle Azur is a well thought-out decision of HNA," he added.

Tan said the deal will help HNA extend its international flight network, especially its business to Europe and Africa.

Aigle Azur, which also has routes to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, will open routes from Paris to Beijing and other destinations.

International expansion has been a major focus of HNA Group during the last two years, and the group is also looking at some niche markets, such as Africa.

The group invested in Ghana-based Africa World Airlines Ltd, which launched its first flight in September. The new airline will become the group's basis to expand its business in Africa.

Tan said HNA will continue to seek overseas acquisition opportunities after the deal with Aigle Azur.

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