Cargo trade takes off
Through its busy trade and tourism activities, Hong Kong has become a leading aviation hub in the region. In terms of international cargo and passengers using the SAR, we ranked the first and fifth respectively in the world in 1997.
Last year, the number of aircraft movements (including passenger and cargo flights) was 165,154.
On average, there were 452 flights arriving or departing Hong Kong daily. The figure represented an increase of four per cent when compared with 1996.
Over the 10-year period from 1987 to 1997, total aircraft movements had been increasing at an average annual rate of eight per cent.
Total air passenger throughput (including passenger arrivals and departures) in 1997, at 28.3 million, decreased by four per cent when compared with the all-time high of 29.5 million in 1996.
The decline last year was mainly due to the decrease in visitors in the latter half of the year which could be attributed mainly to the financial turmoil in the region which discouraged people in other parts of Asia from travelling abroad.
Over a longer span of time, air passenger throughput between 1987 and 1997 was, however, on an increasing track with a cumulative rate of increase of 124 per cent. This reflected the continuous strong demand for air transport services arising from business and tourist trips over the 10-year period.
As regards air cargo movements, a total amount of about 1.8 million tonnes of cargo was handled in the air cargo terminal last year.
Compared with 1996, the total tonnes of cargo handled last year was 14 per cent higher.
The tonnage of air cargo accounted for one per cent of the total in 1997.
The value of air cargo accounted for 21 per cent of Hong Kong's total value of external trade. This comes as no surprise.
Goods transported by air are generally lighter but of higher value than those moved overland or by sea.
Total shipment by air amounted to $654.9 billion last year.
In terms of the values of the goods traded, the United States was our largest trading partner by air. It was followed by Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
When looking at exports (the sum of domestic exports and re-exports) by air alone, the US was the main destination. Last year, the value of goods exported by air to the US was $74.6 billion, 27 per cent of the value of Hong Kong's total exports by air.
As regards imports by air, Japan was the largest supplier. Last year, the value of imports by air from Japan was $66.9 billion, which accounted for about 18 per cent of total imports by air.
Analysed by air cargo commodity type, electrical machinery, apparatus and electrical parts formed the largest commodity group by value. Office machines and automatic data processing machines was the second largest group. The third largest was telecommunications and audio equipment. It was followed by photographic apparatus, optical goods, watches and clocks, and clothing and accessories.
Given the flourishing external trade and growing demand for international air traffic, adequate facilities and good service standards at the airport are important in maintaining Hong Kong's leading position as an international aviation hub.
For more information on this series of articles, please write to the General Statistics Branch (2) of the Census & Statistics Department at Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, or call 2582-4732.