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Air Passenger Numbers Drop 5.6% In Hong Kong

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

16 December 2008

The amount of cargo shipped through Hong Kong International Airport fell by 18.7% year-on-year in November, officials announced Monday.

The airport, which is a key port for goods being transported from the southern China manufacturing belt to global markets, handled 296,000 tonnes of cargo in November - a drop of 18.7%, while air-traffic movements fell 1.3%, to 24,815.

The steep fall in cargo volume has mainly been due to the global recession. Trade activities continued to shrink, and cargo exports showed the strongest decline in North American markets, followed by Europe, Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

The decline in passenger throughput was driven mainly by contracting visitor volume, particularly from long-haul markets including North America and Europe. The Mainland and Southeast Asian markets also showed a considerable decline.

However, the closure of Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport from November 25 to December 3, during which over 230 flights were cancelled, has also contributed greatly to the drop in passengers and cargo.

The Airport Authority's chief executive officer Stanley Hui commented:

"While the rapid and drastic reduction of fuel costs has brought considerable relief to airlines, the aviation industry is facing harder times with negative market sentiment and shrinking demand for services."

"We believe the market is not likely to rebound soon, and a continued decline in air traffic is expected in the coming months, reflecting the continued impact of economic slowdown in major economies worldwide", he added.

Passenger volume and air-traffic movements in the first 11 months of this year grew 2.4% and 2.5% over the same period in 2007, to 44.5 million and 276,535. Cargo tonnage recorded a fall of 0.6% to 3.4 million tonnes.

For the 12 months ended November 30, passenger volume and aircraft movements rose by 2.9% and 2.8% over the same period last year, to 48.8 million and 302,140. Cargo throughput remained steady at 3.7 million tonnes.

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