In early 2008, Avic I, as it was called then, announced it was setting up an airline that would buy its regional airliners, a move that had many industry watchers perplexed. To any trenchant doubter of China's future in civil aeronautics, it must have seemed that the product—the 50-60-seat MA60 turboprop—was so uncompetitive that Avic I could only sell it to itself. But that was not the point of setting up Joy Airlines, as the carrier was called. Rather, Avic I had recognized that it ...

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