China Southern, China’s top carrier by fleet size, said it is in recovery but lingering weakness has forced it to delay some orders and seek more government aid.
Chairman Si Xianmin told Reuters China Southern expects to add 35 planes to its fleet this year, and expects passenger volume for 2009 to reach 2007 levels as the domestic industry starts to recover.
Analysts expect the upward trend to continue through the full year because of a faster-than-expected rebound in domestic air travel, as China embarks on a massive RMB4 trillion ($US585 billion) economic stimulus spending plan.
And analysts believe that spending has helped air traffic return to more normal growth patterns after the impact of the global economic slowdown.
Chairman Si Xianmin said, "The global aviation industry will not bottom out until 2011. The passenger market will recover first, then the cargo travel market. We see that China’s aviation market is outperforming the global market. I am confident that our general business operation will do better than in the first half."
He added, on a downbeat note, "I think the cargo travel market would need at least three years to return to what it was before the financial crisis."
Business Spectator said China Southern saw its net profit tumble 96.9% for the first six months of this year, even as Air China and China Eastern saw positive profit growth due to fuel hedging gains.