HKIA ends year with 5.7M passengers, cargo dive

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5.7M passengers cargo dive
Airport Authority Hong Kong says the city's residents and visitors alike drove traffic growth in December 2022, with traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Japan accounting for the most significant increases. Photo from AAHK
  • 5.7 million passengers used Hong Kong International Airport in 2022, a 318% y-o-y surge, as government’s easing of COVID restrictions encouraged people to travel
  • The increase was propelled by a 939% y-o-y soaring of passenger numbers to 1.6 million last December alone 
  • Cargo throughput fell 16.4% y-o-y to 4.2 million tons, in contrast with the passenger upsurge, as economic concerns slowed freight activity
  • Despite the mixed performances, HKIA operator Airport Authority Hong Kong remains optimistic for 2023
Passenger traffic at Hong Kong International Airport soared 318% year on year to 5.7 million in 2022, a result of the government’s easing of COVID-related travel restrictions, while cargo throughput fell 16.4% y-o-y to 4.2 million tons, reflecting a gloomy economic picture.

Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) released HKIA’s 2022 traffic figures on January 16 with optimism that the lifting of travel restrictions will further spur passenger traffic growth at the airport in 2023.

A big boost the passenger traffic growth came in December 2022, when the figure shot up 938.7% y-o-y to 1.6 million on a 52.3% y-o-y rise in flight movements to 9,290. For the full year, passenger flight movements grew 8.7% y-o-y to 59,775.

Cargo volume contraction continued last December. As opposed to the recorded 5.7M passengers, cargo dipped due to the lingering impact of the pandemic, global economic worries, geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global supply chains, AAHK said.

Volumes fell 26.4% y-o-y to 351,000 tons and flight movements dropped 15% y-o-y to 74,580. The December throughput fall contrasted with a 2.8% decline last Aoril.

Import and export cargos decreased 33% and 26% y-o-y, respectively, compared with the same month last year. Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe recorded a similar significant drop in cargo volumes last December.

“The airport endured another challenging year in 2022 as the impact of the pandemic continued. Nevertheless, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel when the HKSAR government relaxed travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for inbound travelers in the second half of the year,” said Fred Lam, chief executive of AAHK.

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Lam said passenger traffic at HKIA started to pick up in the last quarter of 2022 and gave the gateway a good start for 2023 with the resumption of normal travel with Hong Kong and mainland China.

“We are confident that passenger traffic will continue to recover at HKIA,” Lam said.

Lam said that improvement of the airport’s facilities to prepare for the recovery of air traffic went on despite the pandemic.

He said in the past year, HKIA’s third runway was commissioned, marking a significant milestone for the Three-runway System project. Other projects were Sky Bridge, the 200-meter-long footbridge connecting Terminal 1 and T1 Satellite Concourse, which opened last November.

Lam said facial recognition was also applied to the entire departure journey while the luxury zone and boarding gate areas were revamped.

AAHK said both Hong Kong residents and visitors drove traffic growth in December 2022, with traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Japan accounting for the most significant increases.