Hong Kong Traffic Returning As Shanghai Route Reopens

Credit: Earnest Tse/Alamy Stock Photo

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) reported surging traffic for the month of February, suggesting airlines are willing to add capacity back to the hub, but passenger figures still remain well below 2019 levels.

Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines operated a Hong Kong-Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) flight on March 26 as international routes to Shanghai resume. 

Hong Kong had among the world’s strictest COVID-19 travel requirements, with the airport still down 85-90% versus 2019 passenger traffic levels as recently as October 2022. HKG handled 2.1 million passengers in February 2023, which the airport noted is 24 times above February 2022. But traffic is still just over a third of the 5.9 million passengers handled in February 2019.

“Due to the relaxation of travel restrictions, all passenger segments experienced significant growth [in February], particularly Hong Kong residents, compared to the same month last year,” Hong Kong International said in a statement.

“Traffic to and from Southeast Asia and Japan recorded the most significant increases… On a 12-month rolling basis, [overall] passenger volume increased year-on-year by around six times to 9.7 million, while flight movements raised 3.9% to 150,895.”

HKG Airport Operations Executive Director Vivian Cheung Kar-fay has previously said the airport does not expect to see pre-pandemic levels of passenger traffic return until 2025. By the end of 2023, HKG aims to handle about 60% of 2019 passenger traffic levels. 

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.