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HKIA cargo traffic up 2.4% in June

Cargo traffic at the Hong Kong International Airport increased 2.4% to 312,000 tonnes for the month of June 2008. While visitor traffic experienced a slowdown in June, growth in travel by Hong Kong residents and transfer/transit passengers was relatively more encouraging.

Import/export cargo momentum showed signs of slowing down in June and the overall 2.4% growth was mainly driven by transshipment to and from the Chinese Mainland and North America. The slower growth in air cargo was largely in line with the reduction in foreign trade between China and its trading partners in the month.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association released international traffic data for May that showed a significant drop in cargo growth to 1.3%. For the first five months of 2008, airfreight volumes were up only by 2.8%. Growth in 2007 averaged above 4%. The biggest cause of the slow growth came from a 0.5% contraction in Asian carrier traffic. North American cargo traffic grew by 4.6% as US carriers shifted capacity from domestic to international routes. In addition to expanded transpacific opportunities, the US-EU open skies agreement created new opportunities in Europe. Europe recorded a sluggish 1.4% increase.

“High fuel prices and volatilities in the financial market will likely continue. There is an increasing tendency for the airlines to meet the fuel cost increase challenge through both route and capacity rationalistion and fare increases, including fuel surcharges. Demand for air travel would be put to test in the higher fare environment,” said Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong. ”Higher cost of airfreight will also drive less time sensitive shipments to sea freight. Given the latest market outlook, both passenger traffic and cargo volume will likely see lower growth this year,” said Hui.

For the first half of 2008, passenger volume, cargo traffic and aircraft movements rose by 7.3%, 6.8% and 4.6% over the same period last year, to 24.4 million, 1.8 million tonnes and 149,890, respectively. For the 12 months ended 30 June 2008, HKIA handled 49.5 million passengers, 3.9 million tonnes of cargo and 301,980 air traffic movements, representing year-on-year increases of 7.8%, 7% and 5.4%, respectively.