The Airport Authority is sticking with its passenger forecasts despite the economic downturn. Speaking on the last and largest test of the airport's facilities, corporate development director Clinton Leeks said first-year passenger totals would still be 'in the low 30s' of millions. The authority was not replacing its 1995 forecast of 34 million in its first year. 'We all know that the present downturn is something that Asia will get through,' he said. Unlike Kai Tak, the new airport will run 24 hours a day, although Mr Leeks conceded that between 2 am and 5 am the airport would be quiet. However, particularly when the second runway opened in December, the night period would become increasingly busy. The airport and Airport Express were hit by a series of major and minor 'disasters' yesterday - all in the name of training about 3,000 staff. About 12,000 volunteers, mostly MTR and airport employees, suffered tribulations including simulated breakdowns of the Airport Express, forcing them to evacuate the train and walk along the tracks to a platform. They were also the first to test the downtown check-in systems and the 135km/h Airport Express. One passenger said: 'It's certainly faster and more convenient, but I wish the air-conditioning was better.' Mr Leeks said a detailed assessment of the exercise would be conducted today, but an initial assessment showed no major problems. 'There is nothing we have identified that suggests to us that there will be a problem on July 6th,' he said. However, yesterday's 'passengers' represented just 14 per cent of the total on a typical day. The volunteers were joined by a small flock of brown birds which have taken up residence in the terminal building, particularly in the giant palm trees that have been installed there. Mr Leeks warned that a small number could be tolerated but a large number would cause what he delicately called a 'cleaning problem' and pest controllers would reduce the population.