Citybus Group has blamed the postponement of the airport opening date for a 41.73 per cent fall in interim profits. The company yesterday said attributable profit for the six months to June 30 fell to $35.99 million, from $61.76 million in the first half of last year. Turnover for the period amounted to $572.8 million, up 25 per cent on the $458.58 million in the previous period. Managing director Lyndon Rees said that in anticipation of the originally scheduled April opening date for the airport at Chek Lap Kok the group had fully geared up its resources. This included acquiring 199 new air-conditioned buses for $473.5 million. 'Due to the postponement of the airport opening date, such resources were not fully utilised until the official opening,' he said. Citybus' basic earnings per share for the period were 3.08 cents compared with 6.02 cents for the same period last year. The board recommended no interim payout. The company's parent CNT Group reported a dramatic change in its first-half performance, suffering an attributable loss of $144.22 million compared with a $207.25 million profit in the same period last year. CNT recorded exceptional losses of $146.92 million arising from provisions for falls in property values and a loss on the disposal of an investment in a subsidiary. The board recommended no interim dividend be paid for the period, after one cent was paid last year. Mr Rees said the recent slowdown in the economy of Hong Kong had also had an effect on Citybus' non-franchised operations. 'Patronage of residential services dropped during the period as considerable numbers of passengers opted for other indirect, cheaper modes of transport,' he said.