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Hong Kong International Airport Passenger Volume Dropped 88% In 2020

A Cathay Pacific A350 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Hong Kong International Airport announced a drop in passenger volume for the second year in a row. According to the Hong Kong Airport Authority, the Asian hub recorded 8.8 million passengers in 2020, an 87.7% decrease compared to 2019. The airport has recorded 74.7 million and 71.5 million passengers in 2018 and 2019 respectively. However, cargo throughput at the airport only dropped seven percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong International revealed its passenger volume in December was 90,000, a drop of 98.4% compared to the same time in 2019. Christmas is a travel peak season in Hong Kong, but tough pandemic restrictions resulted in weak travel demand. All categories of traffic figures recorded drops, including Hong Kong residents, visitors and transit passengers.

In light of coronavirus case surges in recent weeks around the world, Hong Kong’s government has introduced a new policy for all international travellers. Passengers arriving in Hong Kong from other countries except China need to quarantine for 21 days and provide a designated hotel reservation for quarantine before boarding.

“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause grave impacts on the airport community, particularly on passenger traffic,” Vivian Cheung, the airport’s executive director, said.

Hong Kong faced a challenging year, as the city recorded its first coronavirus case in January 2020. The travel demand has been dropped rapidly since the pandemic began. The Airport Authority announced a relief package in the early phase of the pandemic, and the Authority’s CEO and Executive Directors have taken a 20% pay cut.

Earlier, the Airport Authority has announced its relief package has been extended to March 2021. The package included the reduction of passenger aircraft landing charges. Shops in the airport will see their rent waived to reduce their stresses, as many have closed down during the pandemic.

Looking Forward

However, the airport hasn’t stopped developing its business amid the pandemic. Earlier, it announced plans to deepen connections with Zhuhai Airport. The aviation hub is determined to expand its business to mainland China.

“Our goal is not only to complement each other on the basis of our existing flight networks, but set sight on over 160 airports in the Mainland which have no international border facilities, and over 130 new airports under construction,” Fred Lam, CEO of the Airport Authority, said.

In addition, AA said the construction of the “Three Runway System,” a project involving the third runway and the airport’s Terminal Two, is continuing as planned. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

The coronavirus pandemic is still far from over, and the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was put on hold as a result of a case surge in Hong Kong. Also, Hong Kong has been experiencing the threat of a new strain of coronavirus. Flights from U.K. and South Africa have not been allowed to land in Hong Kong since December.

“After reviewing the latest epidemic developments globally and in the relevant places, the government finds it necessary to maintain the measure to restrict persons who have stayed in the U.K. and South Africa from boarding for Hong Kong,” Hong Kong’s government said in a statement. Cathay Pacific, the city’s flag carrier, has resumed limited one-way service to U.K. for essential travel.

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