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China’s state-owned carriers sweep nation’s first airport slot auction

Shanghai— China’s state-owned airlines were the biggest winners in the country’s first auction for coveted airport landing slots, state media reported on Thursday, casting doubt over the effectiveness of efforts to reform the slot-assignment process.

China earlier this month said it would put slots for additional 2016 domestic flights at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport up for sale, in a new move predicted to give smaller private airlines a fairer opportunity to apprise some desired slots from dominant state-owned carriers.

The state-run China Daily newspaper said nine airport slots were sold on Wednesday to the country’s four largest airlines and their affiliates, including China Eastern Airlines Corp , and units of Hainan Airlines, Air China, and China Southern Airlines.

A statement from the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued on Wednesday said 34 airlines had taken part in the auction, which raised more than 550 million yuan in total.

“The auction was too expensive for us,” the China Daily quoted a senior executive from an unnamed private carrier as saying.

Industry executives, such as Wang Zhenghua, the chairman of China’s biggest budget carrier Spring Airlines, have said the allocation system is unfair to private airlines as state-owned airlines were allocated all the good time slots.