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Chinese airline to pen deal with Kenyan firm for EA market

China’s Hainan Airlines will sign a deal with Kenya’s cargo airline Astral Aviation to jointly explore the markets of East African countries, a Chinese official said on Saturday.

Co-operation documents were expected to be signed during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Kenya, which runs from Friday to Monday.

The deal will also involve the China-Africa Development Fund, established by China in 2007 to help its companies cooperate with African counterparts, the official said, without giving any specific amount.

Under the deal, Hainan Airlines will take shares in Astral Aviation, and the new entity will provide civil aviation service in Kenya and other East African countries, with Nairobi as the center.

At the initial stage, there will be five 50-seat Embraer E-145 planes to fly between Nairobi and neighboring countries.

When the market grows, the fleet may be expanded and air routes extended to West and South African air transport hubs.

The Kenyan government plans to develop its aviation sector, which coincides with the China-Africa regional aviation cooperation program initiated by China, the Chinese official said.

Mr Li said earlier this week that China would like to cooperate with African countries to help the continent build regional aviation network.