Lunar holiday timing gives lift to cargo traffic

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 3:28am

Air cargo throughput in Hong Kong grew 21.2 per cent last month year on year to 334,000 tonnes, according to the Airport Authority.

But passenger volume was down 5.1 per cent to 4.6 million mainly because the Lunar New Year fell in February, whereas last year it was in January.

The authority also said on its website that the airport registered 30,290 aircraft movements, up 4.4 per cent. There were 30,800 flight movements in December, a monthly record.

Last month, travel by Hong Kong residents dropped 21 per cent, while visitor traffic increased 2 per cent.

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, the chief executive of the authority, said the jump in cargo throughput and the single-digit drop in passenger trips were mainly attributable to the timing of the Lunar New Year.

"It is worth noting that meaningful year-on-year comparisons can only be made with the numbers of January and February combined. Over the Lunar New Year holidays, over 600 extra flights will be arranged to various popular holiday destinations for Hong Kong residents such as Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul," he said.

Hui expects a surge in travel by Hong Kong residents over the Lunar New Year holidays this month. But with most factories on the mainland closed for the holidays, cargo is expected to decline this month from last year.

On the cargo side, all major markets showed growth over January last year, with Taiwan and North America outperforming other key regions. Imports, exports and transshipments all grew by double digits.

The Airport Authority said last week that it expected to achieve modest traffic growth this year. While the euro zone's debt issues and the sluggish US economy will persist, strong growth on the mainland and in Southeast Asia will help offset the impact of these negative factors.