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Slowdown in air cargo


Cargo throughput at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) rose, albeit minimally, by 0.7% in the month of July, to 317,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) international freight traffic declined for first time since May 2005, by -0.8% in June 2008. The decline follows several months of falling manufacturing sector confidence indicators. Asia Pacific airlines led the contraction with a -4.8% year-on-year decline for June traffic. European carriers saw freight demand growth fall to 0.7% in June from 1.4% in May. North American carriers also saw freight demand growth slow to 4.0% in June from 4.6% in May. But Middle Eastern carriers delivered the strongest performance with 12.1% growth (up slightly from the 10.7% recorded in May). Falling demand and rising costs are re-shaping the industry, accordign to IATA, and airports and air navigation service providers must come up with efficiencies that deliver cost savings.

In Hong Kong, while the overall market has slowed down, there are a few bright spots. The small growth in passenger volume (1.3%, to 4.5 million) in July was attributable to the increase in transfer traffic related to North American and Australasian destinations while cargo transshipments also helped the growth in cargo throughput. Both cargo import and export recorded declines. July's performance was consistent with latest Airport Authority projections in light of economic uncertainties and the impact of high fuel price on travel and freight demand.