Rail and fuel drain China Eastern profits

CHINA Eastern Airlines’ net profit for 2011 fell 7.7 per cent to CNY4.58bn (US$727m), from 2010’s CNY4.96bn ($788m). The airline blames escalating fuel prices and increasing competition from China’s spreading high-speed rail system.

Operating expenses rose 15.3 per cent to CNY79.29bn ($12.6bn) with fuel costs rocketing 35.3 per cent to CNY29.23bn ($4.6bn).

Cargo traffic fell 1.49 per cent to 1.443 million metric tonnes.

At the start of 2012, the airline’s fleet stood at 377 aircraft, which includes two 777 freighters, having phased out its four MD-11 freighters during the year. It will take delivery of 49 aircraft this year as part of 200 additional aircraft by 2015.

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