HONG KONG (AP) — China's three major state-owned airlines have posted big drops in annual profit because of the weak global economy, higher jet fuel prices and smaller foreign currency gains.

Air China and China Eastern said separately late Tuesday that earnings tumbled by about a third in 2012 compared with the previous year.

China Southern, which is the country's biggest airline by passenger numbers, said Wednesday that profit plunged by half.

Jet fuel costs rose the most for China Southern, which said it spent 33 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) on jet fuel last year, or 14.5 percent more than in 2011. Fuel is the biggest single expense for the airlines.

The airlines also saw sharply lower foreign exchange gains as the yuan's appreciation against the dollar slowed from the year before.

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