Hong Kong Ponders U.S. Air Deal Expansion

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong said Wednesday it will consider expanding its air travel alliance with the United States, but made no mention of a U.S. proposal that would allow an unlimited number of American carriers to use the territory as a hub.

Washington is pushing Hong Kong to agree to an ''open skies'' deal, allowing U.S. airlines to use the city as a base in Asia. Airlines should also have the freedom to set ticket prices. But some in the local industry question the need to open Hong Kong further to foreign carriers.

Hong Kong and U.S. officials held talks Monday and Tuesday on their air travel agreement in Washington.

The two sides agreed to ''continue to explore opportunities to further liberalize the arrangements for the long-term development of ... bilateral air services,'' Deputy Secretary for Economic Development Wilson Fung said in a statement.

Currently, there are about 200 cargo and passenger flights between Hong Kong and the U.S. each week.

The two sides agreed to meet again later this year to continue negotiations, the Hong Kong government statement said.