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Rising cargo volumes boost Hong Kong’s 2021 traffic performance


While 2021 was a year to forget for Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in terms of passenger traffic, the picture couldn’t have been more different for cargo, with the gateway handling five million tonnes (+12.5%) of freight.

The upturn in cargo volumes ensured that the airport handled more freight last year than the 4.8 million tonnes it recorded in 2019, the year before the outbreak of COVID-19.

Operator, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), notes that the number of cargo flights at HKG surged to an all-time record of 82,935 in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 19.8%.

Monthly cargo volumes also reached a new monthly high in November, and the strong momentum of the month carried into December despite flight reductions due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The upturn led to 477,000 tonnes of cargo being handled at the airport in December – 8.6% up on the same month in 2020.

AAHK attributes the December rise in volumes to an 18% year-on-year growth in transhipments. Imports and exports both experienced 7% growth. Overall cargo to and from Southeast Asia experienced the most significant increases during the month.

Passenger numbers, unfortunately, didn’t fare so well in 2021, with just 1.4 million passengers passing through an airport that pre-COVID was handling in excess of 70 million a year.

AAHK is hoping that a 70% rise in passenger numbers in December when 154,000 people passed through HKG, is a sign of better things to come.

It says that the December upturn in travellers was largely driven by outbound transfer passengers from Mainland China, which it states registered a significant increase compared to the same month in 2020.


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