Who in their right mind would travel to Hong Kong these days? Six months of violent protests and a deepening recession have transformed the city into a chaotic mess. Mainland Chinese, corporations, and tourists are abandoning the city, reflected in the latest plunge of airport passenger and air freight data.
Hong Kong International Airport reported on Sunday that passenger volume in November was down 16.2% Y/Y, the most significant decline since 2009, when volumes fell 18.7% Y/Y, reported Reuters, citing a Civil Aviation Department statement.
In the last three months, passenger volume fell 12% Y/Y as violent protests have kept many away from the city.
The statement said some of the most significant drops in passenger volumes came from mainland China and Southeast Asia.
Hong Kong International Airport is the largest airport in the world for cargo and is used as an economic bellwether for the global economy.
With passenger volumes slipping and air fright cargo shipments dropping, the global economy could stumble into 2020.
The statement said flight trips dropped 8.3% Y/Y in November. Cargo throughput for the month fell 3.4% Y/Y to 450,000 tons.
The air freight slowdown has prompted airport officials to offer a 20% reduction to terminal handling fees for freight forwarders, in a bid to stoke new business.
The Air International Air Transport Association (IATA) said airlines could start slashing passenger capacity in 1Q20. If the passenger downturn persists through spring, commercial flights could be cut by summer.
The social unrest has been ongoing for six months and has forced the city's economy into a recession, affecting its largest sector: tourism.
Business receipts of tourism, convention, and exhibition services plunged 27.8% Y/Y in Q3, the worst drop since the SARS epidemic in 2003.
With no end in sight for the protests and a recession that is expected to deepen into 1H20, the time to rebuild business confidence in the city could take years, or in some respects, never -- since China now wants to make Macau its next Hong Kong.