China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, the country's largest and second-largest carriers by passenger numbers, reported profit declines of about 50% for 2018, which industry analysts said reflected rising oil prices and fluctuations of the yuan.
China Southern's profits fell 49.56% to 2.98 billion yuan ($443.59 million), while China Eastern's dropped 57.35% to 2.71 billion yuan.
Both had double-digit revenue growth, with China Southern's revenue rising 12.7% to 143.62 billion yuan.
Beating analysts forecasts' and overcoming fluctuations in the yuan and fuel price rises, Air China, a major rival to China Southern and China Eastern, posted a 1.3% increase in its 2018 annual net profit. It Revenue rose 12.7% to 136.77 billion yuan.
Industry analysts said that the outstanding performance of Air China was largely due to its investment in Cathay Pacific Airways, which reported a profit for the first time in three years.
In 2018, all three airlines had passenger load factors of over 80%. China Southern achieved a load factor of 82.44%, highest among the three.
Apart from competing for a huge domestic market, domestic airlines, including the three giants, have also been actively exploring the international market in the past year, in a bid to find new growth points.
Most of the newly opened routes are dominated by Chinese airlines, thanks to the increasing competitiveness of Chinese companies, as well as huge demand among Chinese people to travel overseas, said Lin Zhijie, a veteran market watcher.
For example, in the European and US markets, Chinese airlines have shares of about 60%, and in Australia, they have a market share of over 80%, Lin said.
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