Airlines are suffering right now, but Air China is going strong. The company more than doubled its first-half net profits from the same period a year ago. Net income rose to US$422 million based on gains from fuel hedging, offsetting a 9.6% drop in sales and slower international bookings. Air China expects ticket sales to be tepid this year as Chinese airlines compete for a larger share of the domestic market to offset the drop in international passengers. China Life Insurance said its first half net profits are up 29% year-on-year due to gain in the value of its securities holdings under Chinese accounting standards. Under international standards, the company’s net profits are up 15% y-o-y, matching analysts’ expectations. The insurer said it booked profits of US$220 million from its new investment strategy, but premiums declined. China Telecom is hoping to have a similar rise in profits by increasing the penetration of its third-generation (3G) mobile phone services. The company has placed orders for 4 million 3G handsets. The handsets will be priced to sell between RMB500 and RMB1,000 (US$73.19 to US$146.38). China Telecom’s subscriber base expanded significantly faster in July than its two competitors, China Mobile and China Unicom.