China's Okay Airways Plans China IPO Around 2021, Executive SaysBy and
Okay Air mulling a stake sale to foreign carriers: President
Chinese state-run airlines keen on buying unit Joy Air stake
China’s Okay Airways Co. is planning to sell shares in an initial public offering in its home country around 2021 and use the proceeds to help finance aircraft purchases.
In the run-up to the IPO, the carrier plans to sell stakes to foreign airlines and tourism companies, while retaining a majority stake, President Li Zongling said in an interview in Singapore on Monday. Okay plans to sell at least 10 percent stake to each of the strategic investors, he said, without elaborating.
“The stake sale will happen in the next two years and will be conducted gradually,” Li said. “We have reached out to some airlines, and are in talks with them. Some are interested, some aren’t.” The listing will be either in Shanghai or Shenzhen, he said.
Selling stakes to foreign airlines would help improve its management and facilitate its plans for international expansion, Li said. The carrier, which is headquartered in Beijing and counts Tianjin as its hub, last year became the launch customer for Boeing 737 Max 10 aircraft, when it ordered eight of the aircraft. It has also signed an initial agreement for five 787-9 Dreamliners.
Carriers in China, which is likely to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest air travel market by as early as 2022, have ordered hundreds of planes in recent years to ride on an aviation boom. China will be adding 921 million passengers by 2036, followed by India with 337 million and Indonesia with 235 million, according to IATA.
Okay Air is also looking to form a cargo joint venture with foreign and domestic partners, Li said.
China’s state-owned carriers are interested in buying a stake in Okay’s subsidiary Joy Air in the long term, Vice President Lu Chao said separately in an interview.