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January boost for passenger airlines

CHINA'S air passenger traffic grew at its fastest pace in a year in January, but the decline in cargo volume continued.

Domestic carriers delivered 17.48 million passengers last month, a rise of 17.6 percent from a year earlier, following December's 8.2 percent growth and November's 7.6 percent, according to an aviation regulator-affiliated Website yesterday.

The growth was the fastest since January 2008, when traffic rose 18.3 percent.

"The Spring Festival was the major reason for the growth. Discounting the festival effect, the passenger volume rise would be about 10 percent," said Li Lei, an analyst with China Securities.

Cargo volume plunged 28.5 percent last month to 264,000 tons, following a 15.2-percent drop in December and an 11.3-percent drop in November.

"The decline indicated that the cargo market kept seeking a bottom and recovery may happen when the macro economy recovers," he said.

Cargo volume is more closely-related to the macro economy while passenger volume is affected by seasonal elements, tourism and spending power, he said.

Exports fell at their fastest in more than a decade in January - by 17.5 percent to US$90.45 billion.

China Southern Airlines carried 5.2 million passengers in January, a rise of 16.2 percent from a year earlier, and cargo volume slumped 32.8 percent to 57,490 tons. China Eastern Airlines carried 3.2 million passengers, up 9.8 percent.

This year China is aiming for an 11-percent increase in passengers and an 8-percent rise in cargo volume.


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