Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa said Friday he hopes Japan and China can settle their stalled aviation talks next week.

He will meet with Chinese aviation officials in Beijing next Thursday.

The two nations are expected to reach an agreement to increase passenger flights between the two countries by 20 percent, sources said.

The agreement is also expected to include a twofold increase in cargo flights, they said, adding the increases may start this fall.

Japan and China are expected to settle the talks through an increase in the volume of passenger flights from the current 450 using 270-seat planes per week by 90 flights.

They also hope to double cargo flights from present 76 per week, the sources.

The expected agreement will also include an increase in the number of airlines flying Sino-Japanese routes to 13 for each country.

Currently, three Japanese carriers — Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Nippon Cargo Airlines — and six Chinese aviation companies engage in the services.

The two countries are expected to agree to add two cities as destinations. Flights currently access Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture and airports serving six other cities in Japan — Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai and Hiroshima — and 14 airports in China, including those in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

China has called for Japan to accept more Chinese flights at busy airports, including Narita.

Japan is expected to allocate additional landing slots at such airports primarily for flights between the two countries in order to remove one of the major obstacles to the bilateral talks, the sources said.

Japan and China last concluded an aviation agreement in August 2003 that laid down the parameters of the current services. The aviation talks started in January 2005.

Air traffic between Japan and China continues to increase, with the number of passengers rising to 6.66 million in fiscal 2004 from 4.02 million the previous year.

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