Air China Chairman Kong Dong said on Monday it was uncertain whether the country's flag carrier could turn a profit in 2009 and the time was not right for large airline acquisitions in China.
"I can't be certain of profit this year," Kong said.
The aviation industry is going through its worst winter and there was no sign of improvement in the global economic situation, he told reporters in a briefing.
China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air China are the country's three biggest carriers and have all warned of losses for 2008 due to slowing air traffic amid the global recession.
The airlines are seeking government aid, sources said, but China Eastern's chairman said that a major restructuring of the industry was unlikely any time soon.
China National Aviation Holding Company, State-owned parent of Air China, hopes to receive government aid but the group can survive without aid, said Kong, who is also the president of the parent firm.