Modest growth expected at Hong Kong airport in 2013

Operator cautiously optimistic, as it reports monthly record for flight numbers in December

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 3:01am

Hong Kong International Airport expects to achieve modest traffic growth in 2013, after reporting slower passenger traffic growth last year than in 2011.

"We are cautiously optimistic about achieving mild traffic growth at Hong Kong International Airport in 2013," said Airport Authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung.

The euro zone's debt problems and weak US economy will persist, but that will be offset by strong economic growth on the mainland and in Southeast Asia, which will boost traffic, he said.

The airport reported 30,800 flight movements in December, a 5.1 per cent year-on-year increase and new monthly record.

Passenger traffic grew 4.7 per cent to 56.5 million passengers last year, the airport said. That is slower than growth of 5.9 per cent in 2011.

Thanks to a rebound over the past five months, the airport handled four million tonnes of cargo during the year, 2.2 per cent more than 2011. In contrast, cargo volume dropped 4.6 per cent in 2011.

Passenger traffic grew 3.9 per cent last month, and cargo volume rose 7.6 per cent.

The increase in passenger traffic was driven mainly by travel by Hong Kong residents, which rose 7 per cent from the same month last year.

Growth in cargo throughput last month was primarily due to an 8 per cent year-on-year growth in exports.

Cargo throughput to and from North America and the mainland outperformed throughput to other regions, the airport said.

"Despite the challenging global economic environment, regional economic growth continued to drive traffic increases at Hong Kong International Airport in 2012," Hui said.

"This past year, we welcomed nine new airlines and expanded our global network to about 170 destinations."

Meanwhile, Shenzhen, the second-busiest mainland port and fourth-busiest in the world, suffered a 2 per cent drop in container throughput to 1.89 million twenty foot equivalent units (teu) last month.

Cargo throughput fell 1.8 per cent to 19.49 million tonnes, according to the Shenzhen Ports Association.

For the whole of last year, Shenzhen's container throughput increased 1.64 per cent to 22.94 million teu, while cargo throughput grew 2.16 per cent to 228 million tonnes.

Reflecting the weak European market, the container throughput of Chiwan port in Shenzhen fell 4.3 per cent to 3.95 million teu last year, the association said. Chiwan port handles exports mainly to Europe.

Ningbo, the third-busiest mainland port and sixth-busiest globally, expects to post much faster growth of container throughput of 11.2 per cent to 16.83 million teu and cargo growth of 15.3 per cent to 443.25 million tonnes for last year, the Shanghai-listed port operator said on the Shanghai Stock Exchange website.

Container throughput at Shanghai's port rose 2.5 per cent to 32.53 million teu last year, according to the Shanghai International Port (Group), the city's operator. This consolidates its status as the world's busiest port, ahead of Singapore, which handled 31.6 million teu.