Hong Kong’s main cargo handler said it handled 2.8% more cargo in the first two months of 2005 than the same period last year, averaging out the timing effect of the Lunar New Year holiday.

The long holiday fell in February this year, but in January last year.

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. (HACTL), 25%-owned by Jardine Matheson Holdings and 20% by Swire Pacific Ltd., said in a statement it handled 321,443 tons of cargo in January and February.

“Aggregate tonnage for January and February averages out the Chinese New Year effect, and provides a more accurate picture of tonnage growth,” HACTL said.

Cumulative imports for the two-month period fell 7 percent to 96,930 tons, while exports rose 5 percent to 173,985 tons and transshipments surged 18.5% to 50,528 tons.

In February, the total cargo volume fell 12.2% against the same period a year ago to 146,671 tons.

Import volumes fell 18.4% to 45,196 tons and exports decreased 14.6% to 75,539 tons, but transshipments rose 11.9% to 25,936 tonnes. (Reuters)