Passenger and cargo volumes fell last month at the Beijing Capital International Airport as Sars forced airlines to cut flights. Passenger traffic of the Hong Kong H-share airport company dropped 31 per cent to 1.66 million tonnes from April last year while cargo volume decreased 2.7 per cent to 57,500 tonnes. 'The traffic figures were negatively affected by the Sars outbreak,' company secretary Shu Yong said. 'The drop in international passenger volume started early last month while the impact on domestic passengers started to emerge from April 10.' The number of international passengers dropped by more than half to 282,000 last month, compared with April last year. The number of travellers to and from Hong Kong and Macau slumped the most, by a comparative 76 per cent to 25,540. International aircraft movements fell more than 10 per cent year on year to 3,995. The number of domestic flights decreased by 2 per cent to 15,337. Mr Shu said the fallout from Sars first emerged in March when passenger volume grew just 5 per cent to 2.28 million while in January and February it had grown 12 per cent. 'It's hard to tell how long the impact of Sars will linger,' he said. Mainland airlines have slashed capacity since the outbreak began, with the country's big three carriers, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air China, leading the way. China Eastern alone cut 30 per cent of its flights on routes to Hong Kong and Japan. CLSA analyst Liu Yun said the reduction in scheduled flights did not only affect passenger volume, but also the belly cargo capacity, denting Beijing Capital's cargo-handling volume. Cargo volume for the first four months dropped 2 per cent year on year to 195,000 tonnes. 'The cargo business is holding up well. But the reduction in scheduled flights is having an impact on cargo volume,' Mr Liu said.