China's Major Airlines Ready For Post-COVID Recovery After CNY 37 Bn Net Loss In 2020


China Southern Airlines


  • China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air China released their 2020 annual performance results, reporting a combined loss of CNY 37.1 billion.

  • Of the three, China Southern Airlines suffered the least adverse impact from the coronavirus pandemic last year.  

  • Orienting in different directions, the three companies are all demonstrating ongoing recovery.

  • Being at the initial stage of their recovery strategies implementation, these three companies are rated neutral at the moment.

By April 2021, China's three major airlines, China Southern Airlines (ZNH: NYSE), China Eastern Airlines (CEA: NYSE), and Air China (0753: HK), released their 2020 annual statements, reporting a total loss of CNY 37.1 billion, or over CNY 100 million a day.

But compared with other countries and regions globally, China's aviation industry seems to be recovering somewhat faster. So far, more than 40 airlines worldwide have gone bankrupt or been restructured since the epidemic started in early 2020. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), from the perspective of market segments, the global average revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) of the main geographic areas all dropped more than 60%. The passenger load factor (PLF) in Africa, North America and the Middle East was less than 60% while the passenger-carrying rate in the Asia Pacific and Europe was about 65%.

China's trio of airlines had superior critical ratios, compared to the global averages in 2020.


Last year, China accounted for 19.9% of the global domestic passenger transport market, ranking first, followed by the United States (16.6%). The two countries' leading positions result from the enormous demand for domestic transportation. China's effective COVID-19 control has played a great role in the recovery. From this point of view, China's airlines seem to have an increasing investment value. This article will discuss the present and future outlook of China's three major airlines.

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