2004 most lucrative for aviation industry
China's aviation industry garnered 8.69 billion yuan (US$1.04 billion) of profits upon an annual transport turnover of 120 million passengers in 2004, according to latest data provided by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).
The profits were equivalent to the sector's accumulative profits for the previous ten years, and the total number of passengers the sector carried was 38 percent more than the 2003 level, said Li Jun, deputy head of the administration.
By contrast, the aviation sector incurred losses in four of the previous ten years, but made profits in only two of the remaining six years, with losses amounting to 1.86 billion yuan (US$224.1 million), Li Jun said.
The remarkable achievement in 2004 was made amid global price hikes for oil and ensuing cost rises for the aviation industry in China, Li Jun added.
Industry analysts attributed the good result to brisker economic activities, a fast growth in tourism and the flight charge reform.
Of the sector's total profits, airlines companies made up 6.23 billion yuan (US$750.6 million), or 71.6 percent; and airports accounted for 1.5 billion yuan (US$180.7 million), or 17.3 percent; and other aviation businesses, 960 million yuan (US$115.7 million), or 11.1 percent.
Among the airlines operators, the Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines realized 5.39 billion yuan (US$649.4 million) in combined profits, Li Jun said.
However, the rosy picture was spotted by an air crash that occurred on November 21, 2004, killing 55 people. The accident was the first since May 2002 and smashed the nation's longest flight safety record of more than 5 million continuous hours.
As demand is on the rise, Li Jun is confident about a rapid development in China's aviation industry in quite a few years to come. He predicts the growth rate in the sector at 15 percent or so for this year.