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Traffic volumes down amid global financial turmoil

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) handled 3.6mn passengers and 317,000 tonnes of cargo in September 2008, declining 4.7% and 7.5%, respectively, from the same month last year. Air traffic movements edged down 0.4% to 24,570.

Reduction in passenger traffic came mostly from visitor traffic while travel by Hong Kong residents and transfer/transit passenger number decreased slightly. On the cargo front, the decline was across the board, including import, export and transshipment.

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of the Airport Authority, said, “The steep decline in traffic volumes in both passenger and air cargo clearly reflected a very troubled global economy as a result of the financial tsunami, which has affected all countries in the world. The US and Europe, the biggest trading partners with Hong Kong and China, saw a significant drop in air cargo traffic to/from Hong Kong in the month.

"Meanwhile, the National Day Golden Week holiday also brought fewer number of visitors to Hong Kong by air this year than 2007, showing a continuing decline in traffic between Hong Kong and Mainland China as well. Given the very difficult operating environment and shrinking demand in the economic slowdown, airlines are expected to further scale back their operation or put on hold their expansion plans. The aviation industry is expected to face even more difficult times in the coming months," Hui added.

Air traffic figures for the first nine months of this year recorded mild growth over the same period in 2007. Passenger volume rose 3.7% to 36.7mn; cargo throughput and air traffic movements grew 3.0% and 3.1% to 2.8mn tonnes and 225,715 movements, respectively.

On a rolling 12-month basis ended 30 September 2008, HKIA served a total of 49.1mn passengers, 3.8mn tonnes of cargo and 302,225 aircraft movements, up by 4.9%, 3.9% and 3.8%, respectively, over the corresponding period last year.