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12/18/06-BEIJING, China

Chinese airline fined for selling 13-cent tickets

A Chinese budget airline that sold tickets for as little as 13 U.S. cents has been fined for violating government price controls, a news report said Monday.

A Spring Airlines subsidiary was fined 150,000 yuan ($20,000; €15,000) for violating rules that limit discounts on government-set ticket prices, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Spring's Jinan Spring Holiday Travel Agency sold 400 tickets on flights between Shanghai and the eastern city of Jinan for 1 yuan (13 cents; 10 euro cents), the report said. They accounted for 10 percent of seats on Spring's flights from November 30 to December 10.

A regular one-way ticket on that route costs 910 yuan ($116; €88), including taxes.

Chinese airlines are barred from offering discounts of more than 45 percent on the government-set price, said an official of the Jinan Price Bureau, who would give only his surname, Tang.

Shanghai-based Spring is among smaller Chinese carriers fighting for market share in an industry dominated by three government-run airline groups.

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