Exports lift airport cargo to first growth in a year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am


Cargo volumes at Hong Kong International Airport grew in May for the first time in 14 months, buoyed by an increase in exports, the Airport Authority said yesterday.

But one transport expert forecasts that overall airfreight volumes at Chek Lap Kok airport will drop by up to 4 per cent this year compared with 2011.

The authority said total airfreight volumes climbed 1.1 per cent last month to 333,000 tonnes. This included 213,000 tonnes of export cargo, a 1.8 per cent increase compared with the 209,000 tonnes handled in May last year.

Inbound airfreight volumes were unchanged at 120,000 tonnes.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals, the biggest cargo operator, handled 231,361 tonnes of May's total.

'The growth in cargo throughput last month was primarily due to a 3 per cent year-on-year growth in exports. During the month, cargo throughput to and from Southeast Asia outperformed other key regions,' the authority said.

Research by Barclays Capital showed that Vietnam, China and the Philippines had the fastest year-on-year growth in exports based on a three-month moving average, with Vietnam outpacing the other two countries with a 32 per cent gain.

But the Airport Authority figures showed cargo volumes fell 4.5 per cent to 3.92 million tonnes over a rolling 12-month period.

This included a 4.6 per cent drop in airfreight exports to 2.5 million tonnes.

Commenting on projections for the full year, Jonathan Beard, managing director of transport consultant GHK (Hong Kong), said he was 'assuming a 3 to 4 per cent decline from 2011' when the airport handled nearly 3.94 million tonnes of freight.

On passenger volumes, the authority said Chek Lap Kok handled almost 4.53 million travellers, up 4.1 per cent compared with 4.35 million in May last year. On a rolling 12-month basis, the number of passengers passing through the airport rose 6.4 per cent to 55.44 million.

The rise in passengers numbers was mainly driven by a 5 per cent increase in visitors, while passenger traffic 'to and from Japan and Southeast Asia performed particularly well', the authority said.

Authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung was 'delighted' by the growth in cargo throughput despite the volatile conditions.