China Southern Airlines (CSA) on Thursday said that 2007 had been a record year as it reported a near 10-fold jump in profits.
The past two years represented a strong turnaround for the airline, which ended a four-year string of losses in 2006.
CSA, the nation's biggest carrier by fleet size, saw profits rise to a record 3 billion yuan (411 million U.S. dollars) from 306 million yuan in 2006, general manager Liu Shaoyong told Xinhua. The airline made progress in expanding its hub operations and marketing networks.
"It is the best financial result China Southern has ever had," he said.
Revenue from transportation business rose 13.6 percent year-on-year to a record 50 billion yuan in 2007.
The Guangzhou-based company carried 56.74 million passengers in 2007, up 15.3 percent from a year earlier. The figure represented a 30.2-percent share in China's civil aviation industry. Cargo transport volume rose 5.4 percent to 863,000 tonnes, for a 21.8 percent share in the industry.
Liu also ascribed the strong performance to shareholder reforms that allowed non-tradable, state-owned shares to float on the market, which boosted investors' optimism.
The company had also cut costs by employing pilots who were willing to learn to fly at their own expense, which reduced operating costs, he said. Chinese carriers usually spend about 1 million yuan to train a pilot over the four years it takes to get a license. Pilots must sign long-term contracts with the carriers that paid for their training.
Last November, CSA became the first domestic carrier to join the global airline alliance, Skyteam. The alliance would help it accelerate "progress toward internationalization," said Liu.
Also, CSA has a cooperative agreement with Air France-KLM in passenger and cargo services, connecting their major hubs in Europe and China.
The carrier ordered 10 Airbus A330-200s last October and 55 Boeing 737s in August, as part of its efforts to meet market demand and refurbish its fleet. In the fourth quarter of 2009, it is scheduled to take delivery of five A380s, Airbus' jumbo double-decker plane, which can seat up to 850 passengers.
(XInhua News Agency January 4, 2008)