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Hong Kong International Airport reports Traffic Numbers for 2008

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Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has reported a 1.7% increase in passenger throughput and a 3.1% decline in cargo traffic in 2008 as compared to 2007, reaching 48.6 million and 3.6 million tonnes, respectively. Air traffic movements for the year grew 2% to 301,285.

Passenger traffic maintained steady growth in the first seven months of 2008, registering a 6% rise over the same period in 2007. However, it saw a 4% drop over the last five months of 2008 which was partly due to the tightening of Mainland visa applications for foreign tourists following the enhanced security requirements for the Beijing Olympics. But more importantly, the global financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn have caused companies to cut costs by curbing business trips and holidaymakers to reduce travel amid rising uncertainties.

The global financial turmoil and the resultant shrinkage in foreign trade also dealt a heavy blow to demand for freight services, and air cargo was no exception. In December, HKIA saw cargo throughput plunge by 28.2% to 243,000 tonnes - the largest single-month drop since the airport's opening in 1998.

December's passenger traffic fell 5.3% year on year, to 4 million, with routes to and from Southeast Asia, Taiwan, the Chinese mainland and North America recording the biggest drops. Air traffic movements also declined by 3.3% over December 2007, to 24,775.

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, Chief Executive Officer of the Airport Authority (AA), said, "2008 was very tough for the aviation industry, with skyrocketing oil prices in the first half of the year followed by the financial tsunami and the ensuing weakening demand for travel and air cargo services in the second half. The foreseeable future in 2009 will remain challenging, as the full effects of the recession are felt here in Hong Kong and across the globe."

Some expansion and improvement projects currently underway at HKIA are scheduled to be completed this year. These include the North Satellite Concourse, the permanent SkyPier ferry terminal and the Permanent Aviation Fuel Facility. The study for HKIA Master Plan 2030 began last year and will be completed in mid-2009, after which it will be released following approval by the AA Board.

In addition, the AA said it will continue to render its full support to government-led infrastructural projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link, and the feasibility study for the HKIA-Shenzhen Airport Rail Link. All of these initiatives will enhance HKIA's local and cross-boundary accessibility, hence bringing busier passenger and cargo flow to Hong Kong and strengthening HKIA's competitiveness in the long run.

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