The strong euro has delivered a prosperous Christmas to Hong Kong exporters, but carriers are struggling to fill return flights from Europe as the currency erodes local purchasing power for European goods. Hong Kong Dragon Airlines saw its Europe-bound cargo surge more than 30 per cent year on year last month, echoing figures released by Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals, which saw exports to Europe from Chek Lap Kok jump 30 per cent last month to 36,817 tonnes. 'The strong euro enhanced purchasing power in Europe, but at the same time dampened the competitiveness of European goods. Besides, competition is keen as airlines add capacity on the route. Both factors balance out the effect. The competition is keen, especially on the return flights from Europe,' an airline source said. Freight capacity to European destinations increased by 10 to 20 per cent in the market, while freight rates were similar to those of last year, the source said. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Martinair added services direct to China on gaining more traffic rights after last month's bilateral agreements with the mainland. Cathay Pacific Airways moved 87,275 tonnes of cargo last month, up 2.4 per cent. Kenny Tang, general manager cargo, said the optimistic outlook would continue this month. 'Cargo volume broke a record last month. Although the growth rate does not appear to be phenomenal, we compared it with a very high base last year,' he said.