Air China Limited is the national flag carrier of China and a leading provider of air passenger, air cargo and airline-related services and products. As of the end of 2009, Air China operated a fleet of 262 aircraft, serving 156 destinations in 32 countries and regions. The company today announced its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010.

Like other emerging markets, air traffic is taking off in China. For the first quarter, Air China recorded a 30.7% year-over-year increase in operating revenue to 14.7 billion renminbi. This gain was driven by sustained growth in domestic traffic and a recovery in international traffic and cargo business. Operating profits increased by 894.2% compared with the same period in 2009 to 2.54 billion renminbi. Air China reported a net profit of 2.17 billion renminbi, an increase of 121.3% compared with the same period a year ago.

During Air China’s first quarter, passenger capacity – measured in available seat kilometer – rose by 10.64% year-over-year to 26.59 billion. Passenger traffic measured by revenue passenger kilometers was 20.9 billion, up 15% from a year earlier. The passenger load factor was 78.6%, an increase of 2.97 percentage points from the first quarter of 2009. The company’s cargo business also experienced a solid rebound. Cargo capacity, measured by available freight ton kilometers, increased year-over-year by 20.76% to 1.8 billion. Cargo traffic, measured by revenue freight ton kilometers, increased year-over-year by 51,28% to 1.04 billion.

The chairman of Air China, Mr. Kong Dong, commented on his company’s first quarter results. He said “We are pleased to deliver healthy results to start off 2010. We expect to see better growth potential in the domestic market driven by the Shanghai World Expo and the Asian Games this year. Meanwhile, recognizing uncertainties such as jet fuel prices and interest rates, we remain cautiously optimistic about our prospects for the remaining part of the year.”