China Southern, the airline based in the southern city of Guangzhou, earned $48.3 million last year, compared with a $702.8 million loss in 2008.
China Southern said 2009 was "the most difficult year" this decade for China’s economy but "the domestic civil aviation market gradually revived from the worst position" in the second half on the strength of the government’s stimulus spending and easy credit policies.
Revenue was down by just under 1% at $8 billion for the year.
Business Week reported China’s major state-owned airlines suffered heavy losses after the global crisis in 2008 triggered a plunge in air travel. The government injected billions of dollars in aid into China Southern and other carriers, and gave them a rebate on fuel taxes to help them through the crisis.