Passenger traffic at Chek Lap Kok airport is virtually back to normal, with September numbers reaching more than 95 per cent of pre-Sars levels. And tourist arrivals last month were the best ever recorded for September - 1.47 million. The figure represents an 8 per cent rise compared with September last year, according to government figures released last night. Almost 2.62 million passengers travelled through the airport last month, down 4.8 per cent from the same period last year. The September figure is 13 per cent lower than August, however, mainly due to the end of the summer holidays and fewer airlines offering discount packages. The latest figures are evidence of the steady recovery from the spring Sars outbreak when the virus brought the city's travel industry to a near halt. But the figures for the 12 months from last October to September - which saw a 17.2 per cent drop in passenger traffic to 27.5 million - reflect the full impact of the Sars outbreak. The cargo trade has weathered the Sars storm, with volumes rising 9.7 per cent over the 12-month period to 2.58 million tonnes. Cargo volume for September was 235,000 tonnes, up 7.9 per cent year on year. The rise was driven by export growth of 9.5 per cent.