SINGAPORE: Minister for Transport S Iswaran said he is confident that Singapore will "grow Changi back once again and bring it into a new phase of life", as Changi Airport marked its 40th anniversary on Thursday (Jul 1).
The Singapore Changi Airport handled 4.3 million passengers in the first six months of its opening in 1981, said Mr Iswaran in a Facebook post.
Since then, it has welcomed multiple awards and accolades, including Skytrax's World's Best Airport and Best Airport by Size and Region at the Airport Council International Airport Service Quality Awards. Changi Airport brought home the former 11 times, including in 2020.
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Mr Iswaran noted how the birth of the airport had been a "major feat - not just of engineering, but of vision". It was built "swiftly" in six years, he said, and crossed the 10-million mark in 1986 before reaching nearly 70 million passengers in 2019.
"We realised the prediction of Mr Howe Yoon Chong, another key architect of Changi, that it would be 'one of the best if not the best in the world'," said the minister.
But as the travel industry shut down due to COVID-19, Changi Airport's passenger traffic plummeted. In May, a cluster linked to Changi Airport became Singapore's largest active cluster after an 88-year-old cleaner tested positive for the coronavirus.
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Due to the cluster, Jewel as well as the airport's passenger terminal buildings were closed to the public.
"Today, we stand in the thick of Changi Airport's biggest crisis ever. COVID-19 has decimated global aviation and set us back decades.
"But on this day, let us reflect on Changi's history, and take heart. The Changi Spirit is resolute," said Mr Iswaran.
"We have the world's best in our ... family, working day and night to keep flights moving safely, protecting our people and our airport; sharing a unity of purpose. Singapore stands with them."
"I have every confidence that we will grow Changi back once again, and bring it into a new phase of life: as a safe and sustainable global aviation hub," he added.
In a Facebook post, Changi Airport thanked its workers for their hard work and dedication.
"Thank you for being at Singapore's frontline these past 40 years," it said.