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NEWS Last modified on May 23, 2011

Japanese earthquake impacts on Hong Kong cargo traffic



Hong Kong has become the latest gateway to report strong passenger growth in April, although it was not all good news for the airport which saw cargo tonnage drop 6.5% during the month, the decline partially due to the impact of the Japanese earthquakes.



By Joe Bates

Hong Kong has become the latest gateway to report strong passenger growth in April, although it was not all good news for the airport which saw cargo tonnage drop 6.5% during the month, the decline partially due to the impact of the Japanese earthquakes.

On the positive side, the 4.5 million passengers and 27,685 aircraft movements handled at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) during the month represented healthy 8.5% and 12.1% increases respectively on April 2010.

However, the 330,000 tonnes of cargo handled in April was down 6.5% year-on-year, and airport CEO, Stanley Hui Hon-chung, has no doubt that the fall out from March's deadly eathquakes in Japan played a part in the downturn.

"The disruption to the logistics and supply chains of many industries caused by the earthquake in Japan in March played a part in the decrease in tonnage," says Hui, who stressed that April 2010 was a good month for cargo throughput at his gateway.

In facts and figures, the decrease was mainly attributable to the 9.5% drop in exports compared to the same month last year. Both imports and transshipments decreased by 3% in April.

Taiwan, Japan and the Mainland experienced double-digit year-on-year declines.

"Despite the current slowdown, the industry is cautiously optimistic of the future of air cargo in the later part of the year, which is the usual peak time for air cargo," adds Hui.

The airport claims that April's rise in passenger numbers was driven by local resident travel as well as visitor traffic, which registered yearly growth of 13% and 8% respectively. Passenger traffic to/from South East Asia performed particularly well.

The latest figures mean that in the past 12 months, a total 51.8 million passengers (+10.7%), 4.1 million tonnes of cargo (12.8%) and 319,320 aircraft movements (+13.7%) have been handled at the gateway.

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