Privately owned Okay Airways is inviting foreign airlines to take a stake as it prepares for a possible stock market listing in the Chinese mainland between 2020 and 2021, the company's president said on Monday.
Li Zongling said that Okay Airways wanted a "reputable" foreign airline to take a stake of about 10 percent in the carrier and that it has held talks with airlines in Europe and Asia. He declined to identify the airlines.
"I hope international airlines that are interested in the Chinese market and in private Chinese carriers will look at becoming a shareholder in Okay Airways," he said on the sidelines of a conference ahead of the Singapore Airshow, citing Emirates and Singapore Airlines as examples of airlines he considered reputable.
He said that Okay Airways aimed to become a more international company, with plans to launch routes to Europe and the US, and that having a foreign airline as a shareholder would aid that goal.
"Joining an airline alliance will not be as effective for our international business as it would have in the past," Li said, adding that he hoped to find a partner this year.
He also said that Okay Airways was currently in talks with a Southeast Asian carrier to set up a joint venture company in the region so that they could expand their route network.
Li said that the airline was in a position to accept foreign investment because it was still wholly privately owned, though it plans to seek a stock market listing between 2020 and 2021 after it opens its base at Beijing's new airport and receives the first of five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners that it bought for .4 billion at list prices in November.
The company is also seeking Chinese State investors to become shareholders as the country encourages closer ties between the country's private and State companies as part of a mixed-ownership drive, he said.
Okay Airways, based in Beijing, was China's first privately owned carrier when it began operations in 2005.