Carrier looks to new Thai flights after posting flat traffic growth for September Hong Kong Dragon Airlines has reported flat passenger traffic growth for last month, but hopes the figure will be boosted after the launch of its new Bangkok service next month. The airline's cargo business continued to be a bright spot, however, as volume jumped almost 40 per cent to 25,627 tonnes last month from September last year. Passenger numbers reached 307,157, up just 0.7 per cent compared with a relatively strong period last year. In August, Dragonair's passenger traffic increased 13 per cent. Chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung said traffic was back to pre-Sars levels. Although yields were still lagging last year's levels, Mr Hui said he was confident they would soon catch up. Revenue passenger kilometres, the distance flown by paying passengers, dropped a comparative 1.9 per cent to 374.09 million last month, while its network capacity, represented by available seat kilometres, or the distance flown multiplied by available seats, rose 5.9 per cent to 615.11 million. Dragonair will launch a twice-daily service to Bangkok on November 1, which Mr Hui said would strengthen its passenger business by bridging travellers between the mainland and Thailand. Bangkok was one of the most popular destinations for mainlanders, with more than 800,000 visiting Thailand from China every year, he said. There was also strong demand from Thai-Chinese travellers for services into the mainland. For mainland travellers, the carrier said it was working with mainland tour operators to offer dual-city stays - Bangkok and Hong Kong - to make its product more attractive. Mr Hui said fares on the Bangkok route would be in line with competitors, in particular with levels set by Cathay Pacific Airways. Because of the congestion at the Bangkok international airport, Mr Hui said the slot times, especially for departures, were less than ideal. 'There's no space in Bangkok to keep our planes there overnight, so we can't depart early in the morning,' he said. To compensate, the carrier said it was looking into extending its evening Bangkok flight to Phuket in the summer, where it would stay overnight before returning to Bangkok and Hong Kong the next day. The present schedule has flights departing for Bangkok at 12.50pm and 5.30pm, and leaving Bangkok at 3.35pm and 8.10pm.