China Southern Airlines has reported a profit of 135 million yuan ($19.8 million) for the first half of 2009, down 85% from 909 million yuan from a year before.

Profits attributable to shareholders amounted to 25 million yuan for the six months to 30 June, down 97% from a year before, says the Guangzhou-based carrier.

Operating revenues decreased 9% to 26.7 billion yuan, while operating expenses fell by 11% to 25 billion yuan, it says. The SkyTeam alliance member recorded an operating loss of 755 million yuan, better than the operating loss of 1.2 billion yuan a year before.

The carrier says that the Chinese government's efforts in "boosting recovery and stabilising the domestic economy" has helped the country's airline industry over the last six months. However, both the economic crisis and the H1N1 flu continue to have an adverse impact, it adds.

"In the face of the unfavourable business situation, the group maintained a relatively smooth operation through aggressive expansion of sales channels and on-going development of marketable products with a view to increasing its market share, in addition to enhancing safety in operations," says China Southern.

"Furthermore, the group focused on optimising the structures of its aircraft fleet, traffic capacity and route networks, improving its service quality, maintaining strict control over fuel costs, maintenance costs and administrative expenses, and pursuing extensive external cooperation and various policy supports."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news