March 7, 2014 / 1:23 PM / 3 years ago

China Southern to resume profit growth in 2014 - chairman

BEIJING, March 7 (Reuters) - China Southern Airlines expects to resume profit growth this year as rising incomes prompt more Chinese to opt for air travel, the company's chairman told Reuters on Friday.

Passenger volume on Chinese domestic flights is expected to grow 10.5 percent in 2014, said Si Xianmin, citing official figures.

"China Southern's passenger volume may grow as fast, because of its size, but 8 percent year-on-year growth shouldn't be a problem," said Si in an interview on the sidelines of China's annual parliamentary session in Beijing.

Major Chinese carriers, including Air China Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines , may all report a decline in 2013 earnings when they announce results later next month.

China Southern, China's biggest airline by fleet size, reported a 7.7 percent fall in net profit for the first 9 months of last year.

However, Si said he was confident that China Southern would return to earnings growth in 2014 as it opens more lucrative long-haul routes.

The Guangzhou-based carrier, which recently took delivery of its first Boeing 777 jet, plans to inaugurate a route from Guangzhou to New York in August, its third North American destination. The airline also flies to Los Angeles and Vancouver. China Southern also starts flying to Frankfurt in June.

China Southern currently earns a fifth of its revenue from international routes. Si expected that to increase to 30 percent as it adds destinations. (Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller in Beijing; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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