The slumping Asia export trade pulled business for Hong Kong's main air cargo handler down by nearly a third in December.
In the worst month of a bad quarter and a slow year, Hactl handled 167,845 tonnes, down 29.7 percent compared with December 2007. For the fourth quarter, tonnage was down 19.4 percent to 593,082 tonnes. For the year, Hactl handled 2.5 million tonnes, down 3.8 percent.
"The global economic performance remains bleak. With the toxic combination of falling trading demand and the possible modal shift from air to ocean taking place, the whole air cargo industry is undergoing an extremely challenging ice age," said Lilian Chan, Hactl's general manager of marketing and customer service.
Exports were down 34 percent in December and 6 percent for the year. Exports to most countries were down by double digits, but the big exception was the Middle East; exports to that region gained 19.3 percent in the last quarter.
Imports were down 29.6 percent in December and 6.4 percent for the year. Imports from the United States dropped 11.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
"In light of the uncertainties in the global economies and loss of consuming power and confidence around the world, we can only be cautiously optimistic about the possible recovery in the latter half of 2009," said Chan.