Hong Kong airport has unveiled a HK$450 million package ($58 million) to help airlines cope with the economic downturn and maintain flights into Hong Kong.

The Airport Authority (AA) of Hong Kong says in a statement the relief package "comprises HK$200 million worth of reductions in charges and HK$250 million in interest-free deferred payments starting" this month.

It says the reduction is a 10% cut in landing and parking charges until the end of this year.

The deferred payment scheme means 50% of rental on airline lounges, office premises, counters and storage can be deferred for up to one year and repaid by interest-free instalments from April next year onwards, says the AA.

The airport says there is no need to offer airport retailers such a scheme because these renters are Under a scheme in which rental decreases in accordance with changes in traffic volume.

AA CEO, Stanley Hui says the airport has suffered "from the flagging global economy".

The airport's "traffic volumes started declining in August 2008 with the first quarter of 2009 showing year-on-year decreases in passenger throughput, cargo and aircraft movements of 7.1%, 22.8% and 6.6% respectively," he adds.

Hui says "the operating environment facing the global aviation industry is expected to remain challenging fOr the rest of 2009."

AA has been implementing cost control measures including headcount freezes, he adds.

Local and foreign airlines have issued statements welcoming the AA's HK$450 million package.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news