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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 08:52, November 01, 2006
Roundup: Chinese aircraft fly high in Africa
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"I like this plane, it's comfortable and safe," Pride Malandra said when he got off a China- made MA60 plane at the Harare International Airport. The newly imported plane travels almost every day between Zimbabwe's capital Harare and Victoria Falls, one of Africa's best-known natural wonders.

Nearly all the 50 passengers on the plane looked "light-hearted and excited," said Malandra, a travel agent in his 30s who organizes both local and foreign visitors to travel around the country.

"No one in our groups makes complaints about the plane," he told Xinhua.

Air Zimbabwe operates three MA60s on domestic and regional routes with seating capacities ranging between 37 and 48 depending on the route, according to David Mwenga, the airline's public relation officer.

The three have flown a total of 4,235 hours by the end of August this year, according to the company.

"They are doing well and save us a lot of fuel. Since they were put into operation last year, we have reduced our cost and our operation has been greatly improved," Mwenga said.

Zimbabwe is the first country in the world which bought the China-made aircraft. Despite criticisms raised by some Western countries over the plane's reliability, countries in Africa and Asia have ordered 32 MA60s.

Zambia has ordered two and the Republic of Congo has ordered three such planes from their manufacturer, China National Aero- Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

CATIC has been on a drive to support their products. As the first buyer outside China, since MA60's arrival, Zimbabwe has hosted several groups of Chinese expertise who have shared technique with the airline pilots and engineers.

With an increased number of new orders and deliveries of MA60s, the support and maintenance is of significance to keep the aircraft's flights normal and the reputation of the manufacturer, said Tu Zhengxing, chief representative of CATIC in Zimbabwe.

"We have already built a regional aircraft support and maintenance center in Zimbabwe, providing spare parts and various services for the aircraft sold in southern and central Africa," Tu said.

"Generally speaking, we have enjoyed a good reputation in Africa though we are a new participant in the international aircraft market," Tu said, adding that he was confident in their dealings in the future world market.

"With its good performance, low cost and oil consumption, the aircraft has its competitiveness in the world aircraft market," Tu said.

Source: Xinhua

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