China Southern Airlines, the country’s top carrier by fleet size, sees double-digit growth in passenger and cargo volumes this year and will benefit from a rising Chinese yuan, senior executives said.

“The market this year is definitely better than last year,” Xu Jiebo, chief executive officer, told reporters after a news conference.

“Our domestic market volume has already surpassed the pre-financial crisis level,” he added.

China Southern returned to yearly profit of 330 million yuan ($48.4 million) last year against a net loss of 4.8 billion yuan in 2008.

The company will benefit from a possible appreciation of the yuan as it has significant U.S. dollar dominated debt of $52.5 billion, analysts said.

If the yuan rises by 1 percent, it could record 500 million yuan ($73.3 million) of exchange gain, Xu said.

The Guangzhou-based airline also aimed to raise its market share in Shenzhen to 40 percent in three years from 30 percent now, Chairman Si Xianmin said.

China Southern has 32 percent market share of Hainan Island and aims to lift it to 40 percent by 2015, he added.

The company may also cooperate with domestic airlines to develop its air cargo business.

“China Southern does not rule out the possibility to cooperate with some domestic airlines on developing cargo business,” Si said.

The government hopes that the country’s big three biggest airlines—Air China , China Southern and China Eastern Airlines—could integrate their air cargo resources, but China Southern has not started any discussions yet. (Reuters)