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HK airport traffic decline slows
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AIR traffic at Hong Kong International Airport further stabilized last month, with the pace of declines in passenger throughput and cargo tonnage narrowing from the previous month year on year, the Airport Authority Hong Kong announced yesterday.

Cargo traffic improved from the double-digit plunges that had been recorded since November last year, said the authority in a statement.

Last month, the airport handled 4 million passenger trips - a 9.5 percent drop from the same month a year ago - and 291,000 tons of cargo, an 8.3 percent decline.

While the volume of cargo exports declined by about 13 percent annually, imports and transshipments decreased by a low single digit from the same period last year. The key export markets which fell by double digits included Europe, North America, southeast Asia and Japan.

In terms of passenger traffic, Hong Kong residents showed a yearly growth of about 3 percent while visitors dropped by around 17 percent.

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of the authority, said the public's receding concern over the H1N1 flu and the summer travel peak were the two major reasons behind last month's comparatively better performance in passenger traffic.

"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," he said.

For the first seven months of this year, the Hong Kong airport's passenger traffic shed 8.4 percent to 26.4 million, and cargo throughput fell 18.1 percent to 1.8 million tons.

The airport reported a profit of HK$2.6 billion (US$335 million) for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2009)

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