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Air China’s Stock Soars With Kim Jong Un on Board

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exits the Air China plane which brought him to Singapore for the summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 10. Photo: VCG
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exits the Air China plane which brought him to Singapore for the summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 10. Photo: VCG

*After the North Korean leader took an Air China plane to Singapore to attend a summit with the U.S. president, the companies share price spiked on the Hong Kong and Shanghai bourses

*Kim Jong Un's private jet is an aging Soviet model, and any minor malfunction could ground the plane as spare parts are now scarce

Shares of Air China Ltd. rallied in the morning after reports emerged that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took one of its planes from Pyongyang to Singapore on Sunday to kick off the historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Its stock rallied 3.5% to HK$10.12 ($1.29) in Hong Kong as of 11:30 a.m., while its shares in Shanghai jumped 2.5% to 11.64 yuan ($1.80).

“The signal was clear: Beijing remains Pyongyang’s diplomatic wingman,” AFP said in a report. “Kim had never flown so far from Pyongyang since coming to power in December 2011, and having China give him a lift shows that the Cold War-era allies still need each other despite recent tensions.”

The jetliner was “provided at North Korea’s request,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday during a regular media briefing. He refused to divulge details when pressed to answer if the flight was provided for a fee.

Christopher Hill, former chief negotiator for the Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, told Caixin in an interview earlier that China needs to play a part in the U.S.-North Korean negotiations.

“Whether on (June) 12th or starting on the 13th, China needs to be in its proper place at the table. There will be no solution to North Korea without China’s participation — that’s a fact. People may say, ‘Oh we can ignore China.’ No, we can’t,” he said.

Kim has his own private jet, the Chammae-1. It is a 38-year-old Soviet-made long-range jet airliner reportedly no longer in production, and its spare parts are scarce. Any flight with the jetliner could be grounded if it encounters a minor mechanical malfunction.

The Air China Boeing 747 jet is a private plane that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang uses when he goes on overseas visits, according to Apple Daily in Hong Kong.

Chinese President Xi Jinping uses the B-2472 aircraft, while Li’s is the B-2447, a 23-year-old aircraft that serves as a normal passenger jet when not in use, the report said.

Meanwhile, host country Singapore has spent about S$20 million ($15 million) on the summit, mainly for security and communication operations, as well as media receptions, according to local reports.

Zhao Zuoyan contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Jason Tan (jasontan@caixin.com)

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