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Hong Kong Airport Has Record 50 Million Passengers

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s airport handled a record 50 million passengers this year and moved more than 4 million tons of cargo as economic growth in China helped boost travel.

The airport has set a target of handling 6 million tons of cargo and 70 million passengers annually by 2020, Transport Secretary Eva Cheng said in Hong Kong today. The 50 millionth passenger arrived Dec. 25, Airport Authority Hong Kong said in a statement.

Hong Kong’s government will start by the middle of next year public consultations on plans to build a third runway, said Stanley Hui, the airport authority’s chief executive officer. The consultations may take as long as three months, he said.

“The booming economic growth in China and Hong Kong is bringing about increased trade and travel,” Hui said. “We want to better develop our airport infrastructure to support” it.

The city’s visitor arrivals in the first 11 months surpassed its 2009 full-year numbers, bolstering consumer spending and helping third-quarter economic growth beat estimates. Hong Kong’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual pace of 6.8 percent in the third quarter.

Traffic at the airport may reach a record daily peak of almost 170,000 passengers during the holiday season, Hui said in a statement on Dec. 19. The airport operator’s net income rose 50 percent from a year earlier to HK$1.96 billion ($252 million) in the six months ended Sept. 30. Sales gained 19 percent to HK$5.1 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wing-Gar Cheng in Hong Kong at wgcheng@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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