Cleared for Takeoff

Teh Eng Koon / AFP / Getty Images

Waiting game: A Beijing traveler naps before her flight

At first, the bidding war that erupted recently for a stake in China Eastern Airlines, China's third largest carrier by revenue, was hailed as an example of capitalism invading the country's tightly controlled airspace. China Eastern was entertaining an offer by Singapore Airlines to buy 24% of the company for $920 million when a rival bidder, China National Aviation Corp. (CNAC), parent of flag carrier Air China, swooped in with a promise to beat that offer. In an uncharacteristic move, airline-industry regulators in Beijing said they would allow China Eastern's shareholders to settle the...

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