Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Hong Kong’s air cargo dropped 3.1 percent last year

AFP , HONG KONG

Air cargo through Hong Kong dropped more than 3 percent last year, airport figures released yesterday showed, as the global drop-off in demand for goods hit traffic through the export hub.

The global slowdown devastated freight demand in the second half of the year, resulting in a 3.1 percent fall in volume, compared with 4.5 percent growth in 2007, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) said in a statement.

Last month, cargo throughput plunged 28.2 percent year-on-year to 243,000 tonnes, the largest single-month drop since the airport opened in 1998, the statement said.

Passenger growth was also hit, slowing to 1.7 percent last year compared with a record growth of 7.5 percent in 2007, the figures showed. Annual passenger volume was 48.6 million for last year.

The statement said that while passenger traffic maintained a steady growth in the first seven months of the year, it saw a 4 percent drop over the last five months. The volume of passenger traffic plunged 5.3 percent year-on-year to 4 million last month, with routes to and from Southeast Asia, Taiwan, China and North America recording the biggest drops.

HKIA said the annual drop was partly due to China’s tighter visa rules for foreign tourists following security worries for the Beijing Olympics last summer.

“2008 was a very tough year for the aviation industry, with skyrocketing oil prices in the first half of the year followed by the financial tsunami and the ensuing weakening demand for travel and air cargo services in the second half,” said Stanley Hui (許漢忠), chief executive of the Airport Authority.

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