Chinese carriers at Beijing International. By Rob Finlayson

Chinese carriers reported an aggregate profit of CNY3.7 billion ($582 million) in September, a 38.8% drop compared to total net income of CNY6.04 billion in the year-ago period.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China(CAAC) attributed the profit decline to the economic downturn in the US and Europe, and the decline in international cargo.

The growth in domestic traffic, especially in central and western China, helped to sustain profits.

Revenue rose 17.7% to CNY31.83 billion while expenses climbed 28.1% to CNY27.7 billion. Passenger boardings increased 9.7% year-over-year to 25 million in September. Passengers carried on domestic routes rose 9.8% to CNY23.17 million while international boardings grew 9% to 1.84 million. Load factor improved 1 point to 82.1%.Cargo traffic volume decreased by 3.5% to 506,500 tonnes.

Chinese carriers reported a net profit of CNY29.41 billion for the first nine months, up 6.2% over CNY27.7 billion in the year-ago period.

As of Sept. 30, Chinese airlines operated a combined fleet of 1,711 aircraft. During the month, the airlines added 21 aircraft, comprising one Boeing 330-200, four Airbus A321s, four A320s, two A319s, four 737-800s, three Embraer 190s and three E-145s. The airlines phased out three aircraft, comprising one MD-90, one CRJ200 and one 737-300.