Passenger and cargo traffic at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) registered single digit falls in 2009 from a year ago, but the airport expects growth to return in 2010.

Passenger traffic fell 5% to 46.1 million, while cargo tonnage dropped 7.7% to 3.35 million tones, says the airport.

Air traffic movements in 2009 also fell 7.2% to 279,505, it adds.

The contractions were "due in large part to the global financial crisis that began in the latter part of 2008", says Airport Authority Hong Kong CEO Stanley Hui.

"The outbreak of H1N1 and the gradual increase in the number of cross-strait direct flights also had negative effects on HKIA," he adds.

Despite the results, improved figures in the fourth quarter of 2009 indicate that recovery is underway, says the airport

In December 2009, passenger traffic grew 3.4% to 4.18 million, while cargo throughput rose 35.5% to 330,000t. Air traffic movements fell 2.1% to 24,225.

"The across-the-board improvements in air traffic figures for the last quarter, especially in comparison with the first three quarters, indicate that business is gradually flowing back to HKIA," says the airport.

Airlines have also increased or restored flight frequencies, adds Hui.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news