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Beijing airport reports slow passenger growth
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The combined throughput of passengers and cargo at Beijing Capital International Airport grew by just 1.6 percent in the first 10 months of the year, the lowest since 2000, its president said Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Zhang Zhizhong, president & CEO of Capital Airports Holding Co, said the airport had been hit by the economic slowdown.

"International (passenger) arrivals have been much lower," he said.

"In the first half of November, the number was down by 5 to 6 percent year on year," he said.

October was the only strong month, when passenger throughput rose 24 percent year on year, as people flocked to Beijing after it hosted the Olympics, Zhang said.

But growth was down in the first quarter, and slowed further in the second and third quarters, he said.

The airport has lowered its forecast for the year from 60 million passengers to 58 million, he said.

Last year, Beijing Capital handled 53 million passengers, making it the world's ninth busiest, general manager Dong Zhiyi said.

It could still achieve 5 percent growth this year for passenger traffic, and 10 percent is forecast for next year, as the long-term outlook for the Asia-Pacific region is promising, he said.

Angela Gittens, director-general of Geneva-based Airport Council International, said Tuesday that air passenger transport will double worldwide in next 20 years, and the Asia-Pacific region will overtake North America as the largest market.

In the meantime, Zhang said airlines are being encouraged to boost flight numbers.

"With international arrivals down, we have suggested airlines increase domestic flights, so we can fight the economic slowdown together," he said.

Meanwhile, Capital Airports Holding Co, which manages 35 airports, will receive a 1 billion yuan cash injection before the end of the year, Zhang said.

The money is part of the central government's 4 billion yuan fund allocated to the Civil Aviation Administration to boost domestic demand, he said.

"We will use the capital for ongoing projects, including the expansion of Chongqing airport, adding a second runway at Tianjin, and upgrading one of the runways at Beijing Capital," he said.

(China Daily November 19, 2008)

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