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Singapore Airlines' Profit Soars On High Passenger Numbers


Singapore Airlines' second-quarter profit has soared despite higher fuel costs and China has suspended the export licenses of more than 700 toymakers. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

Singapore Airlines reported a net second-quarter profit of more than $370 million, a rise of 73 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Profits were driven by strong passenger volumes, which offset the impact of rising fuel costs.

Singapore Airlines' chief executive, Chew Choon Seng, says the airline will add seven new planes to its current fleet of 92 aircraft within the next five months to cope with the growing number of travelers.

"For the remainder of this financial year, through until the end of March, we will be adding three Airbus 380s - the first of which was put into service this past week-end," said Chew. "And then we have four more [Boeing] 777-300 ERs joining the fleet in this period."

Chinese regulators have suspended the export licenses of more than 700 toy factories in southern Guangdong province because of quality-control problems. Another 690 factories were ordered to renovate their facilities and improve product quality.

Millions of Chinese-made toys have been recalled in recent months because they were found to contain high levels of toxic lead paint. The most high-profile case came from U.S. toy company Mattel, which recalled more than 21 million toy cars, Barbie dolls and other toys made in China earlier this year.

In other news from China, U.S. automaker General Motors announced it will spend $250 million to set up an alternative fuel research center in Shanghai. GM will team up with Tsinghua University and its local partner, the Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation.

China is trying to promote cleaner and more efficient fuel as part of its efforts to combat pollution and reduce the country's dependence on imported oil.

Thailand's largest agribusiness company, the Charoen Pokphand Group, says it will invest $3.6 billion in Vietnam over the next five years. Half of the funds will be invested in property development and retail businesses. The remainder will go to the Vietnamese telecommunications sector.

The Thai group first entered Vietnam 15 years ago. It has so far invested $350 million in the country, mainly in agricultural businesses.

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