Hong Kong Airport hails record year.

Hong Kong International Airport. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) enjoyed record passenger and cargo activity during 2010, as air travel and freight demand rebounded from the global downturn. Furthermore, the latest data for January suggest the recovery is continuing into 2011.

The airport reported double-digit growth in all its traffic statistics for January. Passenger numbers for the month rose 10 percent from a year earlier, to 4.3 million, while cargo volume grew 10.8 percent. Aircraft movements also grew, rising 16.9 percent year-on-year to 27,410.

According to airport operator Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA), the growth was mainly driven by visitor traffic and travel by Hong Kong residents. Passenger traffic to and from South East Asia and mainland China performed particularly well, while transit passenger numbers grew 6 percent year-on-year, AA said.

On the cargo side, robust export and trans-shipment performance, up 11 percent and 16 percent respectively compared with the same month a year earlier, led to the jump in January cargo volumes. Imports grew by 8 percent year-on-year during the month.

“North America and Europe carried on the strong momentum, with double-digit year-on-year growth,” the AA said.

‘Encouraging figures’

Stanley Hue Hon-chug, chief executive officer of the AA, said: “I am glad to see the encouraging air traffic figures in the first month of this year. In addition, more and more of our passengers use the cross-boundary sea and land transport services to and from HKIA and the Pearl River Delta region, strengthening HKIA as a preferred gateway to the mainland.”

More than 190,000 passengers used the Sky Pier ferry terminal in January – a 20 percent year-on-year increase. About 160,000 passengers took mainland coaches and limousines to cross the border, a gain of more than 40 percent over the same period of 2010.

“Passenger volume and aircraft movement figures continued to rise over the Chinese New Year (CNY) period, and a new daily record of more than 170,000 passengers was set on 7 February. During the period between 2 and 8 February, the airport handled nearly 1.1 million passengers and over 6,100 air traffic movements, up 3.8 percent and 7.7 percent from the CNY period last year,” Hui said.

On a rolling 12-month basis, the airport handled 51.3 million passengers and more than 4.1 million tonnes of cargo from February 2010 to the end of January, respective increases of 11.3 percent and 21.1 percent over the same period a year earlier. Aircraft movements also showed an increase of 11.4 percent, rising to a total of 310,500.

The January figures were the latest good news from HKIA, which recently announced it had set new annual records in all traffic categories in 2010. During the calendar year, passenger traffic grew 10.3 percent to 50.9 million from the previous year, while cargo increased 23.4 percent to 4.1 million tonnes and air traffic movements rose 9.7 percent to 306,535.

The year 2010 also saw nine new airlines operating services to HKIA, the opening of new facilities and capacity increases. These included the official openings of the North Satellite Concourse and SkyPier, as well as added baggage-handling capacity.

In December, HKIA handled 4.4 million passengers and 362,000 tonnes of cargo, growth of 6.4 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. Air traffic movements during the month hit a monthly high of 27,725, up 14.5 percent.

2011 outlook

“Signs of continuing robust market demand lead us to anticipate further growth in 2011, which will likely be single-digit because of the high base achieved in 2010,” Hui said.

The statistics were released as the AA unveiled the first phase of its midfield development project and announced the on-time, on-budget completion of a HK$4.5 billion (US$578 million) upgrade project for the airport.

The HK$7 billion phase 1 midfield development project includes the construction of a new concourse with 20 aircraft parking stands – some capable of handling the Airbus A380 – a new cross-field taxiway and the extension of the existing automated people mover (APM) to the midfield concourse.

Construction will start in the third quarter of this year and phase 1 development is targeted for completion by the end of 2015, the AA said.

The midfield area is located to the west of Terminal 1 and between the two existing runways. It is the last piece of land on the airport island available for large-scale development.

AA Chairman Dr Marvin Cheung Kin-tung said: “Equipping HKIA with sufficient handling capacity is key to strengthening Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a leading regional and international aviation centre, and a preferred gateway to the Mainland. To meet future demand, the new midfield concourse … will ultimately enable about 10 million passengers a year to embark and disembark aircraft using air bridges at this concourse.”

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