Hainan Airlines is China’s largest privately owned air transport company, owned by HNA Group that bought Turkish ACT.
The Chinese HNA group aims to establish a European route network through its acquisition of 49 percent of the shares in Turkey’s ACT, an executive says.
The HNA Group, the owner of China’s giant Hainan Airlines, has broken into the Turkish market by acquiring 49 percent of Turkey’s ACT Airlines and is now eyeing other sectors such as aviation, real estate, hotels and seaports.

HNA, China’s largest privately owned air transport company, acquired 49 percent of ACT’s shares for $25 million and plans to invest more in Turkey, a top ACT executive told the Hürriyet Daily News on Thursday.

"In the long run, the company is planning to rank among the top carriers in Europe,” ACT cargo partner, Yavuz Çizmeci, told the Daily News.

"The investment is significantly important for HNA’s Europe strategy,” Çizmeci said. The alliance between the HNA Group and Turkish companies is very important in terms of allowing HNA to expand its international routes in the Middle East, establish a European route network and grow its overseas businesses, he added.

Istanbul-based ACT Airlines performs unscheduled air cargo services. In addition to ACT’s current fleet of four A 300-B4 cargo aircraft, HNA plans to grow quickly by purchasing three Boeing 747-400 aircraft before year’s end to become the biggest air-cargo company in the country.

The HNA Group plans to expand the fleet to 10 within the next two years, Çizmeci said.

Noting that the Chinese giant has invested nearly $25 million in ACT shares, he said the business bonds that had become stronger than ever between China and Turkey in recent years had played a major role in HNA’s investment decision in the country.

[hh]Trade volume between China and Turkey has grown

Trade volume between the two countries has grown from $2 billion in 2002 to approximately $17 billion by the end of 2010.

"The volume will hit $50 billion in the next eight years,” Çizmeci said. “A global air carrier active in the region would naturally benefit from this growth at a great extent.”

The group is also looking at more investment in Turkey in various sectors, ranging from real estate to ports, Çizmeci said. HNA started talks with one of Turkey’s leading construction companies, Renaissance, to construct seven luxurious hotels in Zeyport, one of the major Istanbul harbors Renaissance recently acquired, he said.

Renaissance also has major projects in Iran, Turkmenistan and Russia.

The HNA Group owns 17 overseas companies that had an annual income of around $3.2 billion in 2010.

The group provides aviation, logistics, finance and tourism services with a staff of 90,000 while the company’s total investments approach $30 billion, according to official data. Hainan Airlines, which the group acquired in 2003, is the largest privately owned air transport company in China.

HNA also acquired an aircraft maintenance facility last year at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport in cooperation with Bravia Investment of New York. ACT’s Çizmeci was the chief executive there and will continue at his post.

ACT has been delivering services to DHL and Lufthansa and has also been active in Gulf countries.

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