BEIJING -- Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang said on Tuesday the government supports domestic airlines to join global air carrier alliances and that foreign airlines are welcome to open new routes to China.
Zhang made the remarks in a meeting with Leo van Wijk, president of SkyTeam, one of the world's biggest air carrier alliances.
The civilian global aviation industry plays a fundamental and strategic role in China's economy, and the government will continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with air-carrier alliances and foreign airlines to promote its rapid development, Zhang said.
China Eastern Airlines, the country's second largest airline company by passenger traffic, joined the SkyTeam on Tuesday, and Zhang attended the signing ceremony.
He said Chinese airlines should take the opportunity to learn from other airlines and improve services and management in order to enhance their competitiveness and develop themselves into world-class airlines.
SkyTeam has 14 members and flies to 168 countries and regions. The addition of China Eastern Airlines brings its total passenger number to 474 million.