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China civil aviation regulator says too early for Big-3 airline mergers - Xinhua

Beijing (XFN-ASIA) - It is too early for China's three major

state-owned carriers - Air China, China Eastern and China Southern - to pursue

mergers with each other, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing civil

aviation regulator Yang Yuanyuan.

"Personally, I don't agree to the restructuring of the big three carriers, as there should not be a unique voice on China's civil aviation market," Yang said on the sidelines of a conference held here on Monday.

He said each of the three airlines does not have sufficient capability to manage a company the size of a merged entity, adding: "The development of the nation's civil aviation sector requires competition among the three majors as well as regional and private carriers."

The remarks come amid speculation of M&A activity among the big three, which themselves were formed from a restructuring of state-owned carriers in 2002.

In September China National Aviation Holding Co, which controls Air China, cancelled a joint bid with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd to take a stake in China Eastern Airlines.