China's booming economy and the strong euro helped Luxembourg-based Cargolux Airlines International register strong growth last year. The Sars outbreak - while wreaking havoc in other sectors - proved a blessing in disguise for all-cargo airlines. These carriers were able to pick up freight that would normally have been shipped on passenger airlines. 'The past 11/2 years have been really good for Hong Kong,' said Kevin Shek, Cargolux director, sales and marketing and global accounts. He estimated that growth was between 10 and 15 per cent. 'Because of Sars, a lot of passenger airlines had to cancel flights. So, a lot of shipments that would normally have gone on passenger flights had to be switched to all-cargo airlines.' Now that things have returned to normal, business for all-cargo airlines has continued to remain healthy, thanks to the strong euro and China's thriving economy. 'There are supposed to be ups and downs, but for the first half of the year the market has been quite good, and not just for Cargolux,' Mr Shek said. Over the past 20 to 30 years, there have usually been drop-offs in business following the Lunar New Year and Easter holidays before things pick up again in September. But this year, there have not been the same slowdowns as in previous years. 'Because of the strong euro, a lot of European companies are spending more and ordering more from Asia. This is boosting traffic not only from Hong Kong, but from Shanghai as well,' Mr Shek said. China's rising middle class, meanwhile, has more money to spend, fuelling demand for a growing array of European products. Luxembourg Airport is Cargolux's key hub. The airline has a huge network of trucks, transporting goods to destinations all over the continent from the airport. The carrier's second most important market is Hong Kong, with 10 flights a week. Three of these stop in Budapest and, since June 8, two have been stopping in Barcelona before terminating in Luxembourg.