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April passenger traffic at HKIA hard hit by SARS


(HONG KONG, 14 May 2003) – The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has resulted in a year-on-year decline of 68.9 per cent in passenger traffic at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for April.

Passenger throughput was 909,000 and the number of passenger flights for the month was down by 33.6 per cent.

The decline in passengers and passenger flights accelerated fast after the warning issued by the World Health Organisation in early April for passengers to postpone visits to Hong Kong and southern China. Although the SARS situation in Hong Kong itself seemed to have stabilised by the end of April, passenger numbers have not shown much improvement in early May. The short-term outlook remains negative due largely to uncertainty over progress in combating SARS within Mainland China.

The Airport Authority (AA) Chief Executive Officer Dr David J Pang said “It is still too early to say that we are past the lowest point in terms of the impact of SARS on our business. However, in close co-operation with all our airport business partners, we are fully engaged in rebuilding passenger confidence and regaining our flows. We are also very determined to overcome whatever challenges may yet face us.”

A major element in restoring passenger confidence is the Operation SkyFit campaign launched on 7 May, bringing together efforts of the whole airport community to win passengers back. Not only have the AA and its business partners stepped up measures to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene both in flight and at HKIA, the campaign also wants all airport workers to take their temperature before reporting for duty. Passengers should feel assured and safe to take any flights from HKIA as they are served by a healthy airport workforce.

On air cargo front, traffic at HKIA is holding well, showing an increase of 3.1 per cent year-on-year to 203,000 tonnes, driven mainly by growth in export markets such as Taiwan and Europe. However, the outlook for cargo traffic for May is somewhat uncertain with signs of slowing down in cargo traffic over the course of April due to weakness in regional economies affected by SARS.

Cargo aircraft movements grew by 25.1 per cent, largely to make up for the loss of cargo capacity resulting from the cancellation of so many passenger flights. Overall aircraft movements reduced by 27.9 per cent to 12,075, driven mainly by cancellation in passenger flights.

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