China’s three major airlines all returned to profit in the third quarter thanks to stronger passenger demand and lower fuel prices, the Wall Street Journal reported. Air China saw its net profit for the July-September period reach US$125.3 million, compared to a loss of US$288.5 million in the same period of last year. China Eastern Airlines recorded a profit of US$3.4 million, following a US$341.2 million loss a year ago, while China Southern Airlines posted US$41.6 million, having lost US$121.5 million in the third quarter of 2008. Air China and China Eastern’s massive losses of last year came after they signed fuel forward contracts in early 2008, when oil prices were rising, only to see the bottom then fall out of the market. Both companies managed to reverse some of their hedging losses recently as oil prices have gone up. Meanwhile, strong domestic demand saw Air China carry 29.52 million passengers between January and September, up 17% year-on-year. China Southern carried 49.03 million in the same period, up 13.6% year-on-year.
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