HKIA ground handlers expect better times ahead

Ravaged by the global financial crisis and the global recession that followed in the first three quarters of last year, Hong Kong International Airport’s two main ground handlers reported improved performance in the fourth quarter of 2009 indicating that recovery is underway despite full-year contractions in cargo volume down 7.7 per cent year on year to 3.35 million tonnes. Wong Joon San reports.

In the first three quarters of the year, HKIA’s year-on-year cargo throughput was down by 22.9 per cent, 17.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent from Q1 to Q3, but a 16.2 per cent gain in Q4 helped narrow the full year’s decline.

“Hong Kong’s aviation industry faced a number of challenges in 2009. We saw contractions in all three air traffic categories, which were due in large part to the global financial crisis that began in the latter part of 2008. The outbreak of H1N1 and the gradual increase in the number of cross-strait direct flights also had negative effects on HKIA,” said Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of theAirport Authority Hong Kong (AA).

“In addition, volatile fuel prices, yield erosion from significantly reduced demand in front-end business traffic, and low cargo yields for most of 2009 caused airlines to reduce frequencies and suspend services to destinations, which continued to result in financial losses,” he added.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), which handles about 70 per cent of HKIA’s total cargo throughput, said the territory’s tradeperformance showed a vast improvement towards the end of the year, but the wholeyear’s cargo throughput dipped 8.3 percent year on year.