Flight attendants aboard Chinese airliners traded their nylon trousers for sky-blue designer skirts Friday as Beijing launched a new national airline, Air China, on the 67th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party.

"Air China will be more competitive," said airline spokesman Ye Dongchang, describing Beijing's goal in setting up the new carrier to replace the much-maligned Civil Aviation Administration of China.

"We are going to try to catch up with other international airlines as fast as possible."