Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) stated that traffic at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) stabilised further in Jul-2009, but business climate remains “challenging, as economic activities remain low”. Hong Kong’s GDP rose 3.3% in the June 2009 quarter compared to the March quarter, ending four consecutive quarters of contraction, meaning the local economy has technically emerged from recession. But AAHK believes the weak economy and the ongoing difficult operating environment for the aviation industry would “continue to affect the pace of recovery”.
HKIA’s Jul-2009 traffic showed year-on-year falls in passenger throughput, cargo tonnage and air traffic movements narrowing from the previous month. The airport handled a total of 291,000 tonnes of cargo, 4 million passengers and 23,315 air traffic movements, representing year-on-year decreases of 8.3%, 9.5%, and 9.9%, respectively.
Traffic volumes at HKIA entered negative territory in Aug-2008. In Jul-2008, passenger volumes grew just 1.3%, to 4.5 million, while cargo throughput rose 0.7%, to 317,000 tonnes.
Hong Kong Airport passenger number growth and cargo volume growth: Aug-2008 to Jul-2009
The volume of cargo exports declined by approximately 13% year-on-year, while imports and transshipments showed low single-digit decreases. Key export markets experiencing double-digit drops included Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Japan.
On the passenger side, Hong Kong residents showed a yearly increase of around 3%, while visitors declined by around 17% and transfer/ transit passengers dipped approximately by 10%. Key visitor markets impacted included South East Asia, Chinese Mainland, Taiwan, North America and Japan, according to AAHK.
Outlook: Full recovery some time off
AAHK CEO, Stanley Hui, stated, “the public's receding concern over Influenza A (H1N1) and the Summer travel peak were the two major reasons behind last month's comparatively better performance in passenger traffic”.
He added, “the latest figures indicate that the downward momentum may have slowed. While we believe air traffic figures will see milder drops in the months ahead, it will take some time before overall traffic performance returns to pre-crisis levels”.