Air China’s chairman said he was uncertain about the carrier’s ability to post a profit in 2009, citing poor passenger volumes and weak imports and exports, Reuters reported. "It is difficult to be optimistic about this year," said Kong Dong, although he noted that Air China remains the strongest financially of the country’s major airlines. While Kong hopes for government assistance, he said the airline could survive without it. China Eastern Airlines has been promised a US$1.02 billion government cash injection, while China Southern was expecting US$438.4 billion in state assistance. Kong also said Air China would ask Boeing for compensation due to the aircraft maker’s delays in delivering its new 787 Dreamliner jet, currently two years behind schedule.