China's top airlines may return to profit this year

SHANGHAI, April 17 - China's top three airlines, which lost more than $4 billion in 2008, may return to profit this year as a faster-than-expected rebound in domestic air travel in the first quarter could extend through the year.

After years of double-digit growth, China's airlines faced strong headwinds last year as a series of natural disasters and a slowing economy hit demand for air travel.

But air traffic has resumed its normal growth pattern this year, as Beijing's aggressive stimulus package to bolster economic growth lifted consumer confidence, boosting travel.

Flag carrier Air China, which reported a 9.15 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) net loss last year under Chinese accounting standards, was profitable in the first quarter. [ID:nHKG306793]

Loss-making China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, due to release quarterly figures later this month, are expected to see positive results, analysts said.


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