Monday, February 16, 2009

Hong Kong airport cargo drops 29 pct

HONG KONG (AFP) — Air cargo through Hong Kong's airport dropped 28.9 percent year-on-year in January, figures showed Sunday, the latest sign of how the global economic slowdown is hitting Chinese exporters.

Cargo tonnage dropped to 210,000 tonnes, the airport authority said in a statement.

Hong Kong is one of the major hubs for exporting items made in southern China's factory belt. Imports from Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia also suffered, the statement said.

Passenger traffic actually increased year-on-year in January by 0.2 percent to 4.0 million passengers, although the increase could have been due to the early Chinese New Year this year, a popular time for travel.

The number of visitors from North America and Europe saw a double-digit decline from the previous year.

The overall number of flights in and out of Hong Kong fell 2.0 percent to 24,245.

"The aviation industry is a reflection of the general economic situation and the declines we are experiencing... are largely consistent with what is happening with the global economy," Stanley Hui, chief executive officer of the Airport Authority, said.

"As companies continue to keep a tight rein on their business activities and consumers on their spending, drops in air traffic figures covering passenger, cargo and aircraft movements will likely continue."

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