Hong Kong benefiting from increased liberalisation

Since replacing the legendary Kai Tak airport on 6 July 1998, Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport has helped Hong Kong’s air passenger numbers to climb from under 30 million passengers in 1998 to almost 50 million in 2007. Traffic growth in the last three years has been particularly impressive, with passenger numbers up almost 10% in 2005 and 2006 and 7.5% in 2007. According to ACI in 2006 the airport ranked 14th in the world, up two places on 2005. In 2007, the airport won the coveted Airport of the Year award from Skytrax, as Asian airports took four of the top five places.

Image: Cathay Pacific - Asia’s world city
On 1 February, Cathay Pacific took delivery of its latest aircraft, a 777-300ER painted in a unique ‘Asia’s world city’ livery. The aircraft, which has received widespread media coverage recently, is designed to help promote the Hong Kong name as it flies around the world.
Chart: Hong Kong airport traffic 1998-2007
Source: HKIA

The big traffic dip in 2003 was due to the impact of the SARS outbreak, which impacted the region particularly badly. This can be seen most vividly in the monthly traffic figures for 2003 shown below.

Chart: Hong Kong airport seasonality
Source: HKIA

The normal and consistent seasonality profile which can be seen for 2006 and 2007 was radically different in 2003 as passenger numbers in May fell to about one-sixth of their normal level. Not until August was normal service resumed.

Image: Hong Kong International Airport has welcomed government plans
Hong Kong International Airport has welcomed government plans to increase runway capacity from the present level of 54 movements per hour to 58 by 2009. The Hong Kong government launched feasibility studies for a third runway last month. Pictured is Howard Eng, airport management director, making a presentation on airport developments to Financial Secretary Henry Tang and Director General of Civil Aviation Norman Lo.
Image: Hong Kong International Airport commemorated the opening of Terminal 2
Hong Kong International Airport commemorated the opening of Terminal 2 and the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region last June.

Cathay and partners still dominate

Image: Dragonair plane
The latest addition to Dragonair’s route network is a Hong Kong-Kathmandu service.

Cathay Pacific remains the airport’s leading airline and along with its partner Dragonair they currently operate around half of all capacity and 40% of flights from the airport.

Logo: DragonAir

Chart: Top 15 airlines at HKG
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 March 2008

Asian airlines dominate the rankings with United the leading non-regional carrier thanks to its three daily flights from Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, two of which connect on to Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. The leading European airline is British Airways which operates three daily flights to London Heathrow, all of which depart within a two-hour period.

A total of 65 airlines operate over 2,400 weekly departures to 38 different countries with an average aircraft size of 259 seats. Mainland China accounts for one-third of all flights, while Chinese Taipei represents a further one-sixth. In terms of seat capacity the next biggest markets are Thailand, Japan and the US. It was recently announced that an agreement had been reached to substantially liberalise air services between Hong Kong and Japan (with the exception of Tokyo).

Local airlines generating most new routes

In the past few months new services have been started by the following airlines:

  • Cathay Pacific: To Toronto (Jan 08)
  • Dragonair: To Fukuoka (Oct 07), Sendai (Oct 07), Kathmandu (Dec 07)
  • Hong Kong Airlines: To Nanchang (Jul 07), Phuket (Jul 07), Ho Chi Minh City (Aug 07), Hefei (Dec 07)
  • Hong Kong Express: To Bangkok (Sep 07), Yangon (Nov 07), Kuala Lumpur (Nov 07), Jakarta (Nov 07), Kathmandu (Dec 07)
  • Oasis Hong Kong: To Vancouver (Jun 07)
  • Royal Jordanian: To Amman (via Bangkok, Jan 08)

Logo: Hong Kong ExpressWith the exception of the Royal Jordanian service to Amman via Bangkok all the other new routes have been started by airlines based at Hong Kong. In 2008, further new routes are being added by Cathay Pacific (to Chennai) and Dragonair (to Bangalore). At some point this summer Hong Kong Express will start double-daily services to Beijing and Shanghai having recently been designated by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department as the third Hong Kong based carrier permitted to operate between Hong Kong and the two largest Chinese cities.


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