SINGAPORE: Looking into 2016, Changi Airport is expected to see a pick-up in activity, on the back of new destinations and low oil prices. This will help further support Singapore's position as a regional aviation hub.
Already, works are in progress for Terminal 4, slated for completion in 2017. It will help meet the anticipated increase in demand, boosting Changi’s total passenger capacity by 16 million. The airport handled more than 54 million passengers in 2014.
Work-in-progress: Changi Airport's Terminal 4. (Photo: Jack Board)
The ASEAN Open Skies Policy is also set to be implemented, thus paving way for more flights across the region.
More than 45.5 million passengers passed through Changi Airport from January to October in 2015, one million more than in the same period a year ago, when the airport saw about 44.5 million visitors. This is despite slower economic growth worldwide this year, which has impacted other airports in the region as well, including Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
At the same time, Changi also established new connections with eight cities in 2015, and another seven airlines now have flights to the airport.
One analyst said it is important that Singapore remains an aviation hub because of the huge investment in infrastructure made during periods of higher growth.
2016 may also see a pick-up in passenger numbers.
Chief analyst and ASEAN chief representative at CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Brendan Sobie, said: “I think we're going to see growth come back to closer to that 5 per cent level that we saw in 2013, certainly faster than what we saw in 2014 and first half of 2015. Gulf carriers have expanded, Scoot is expanding, and there are also some opportunities to really bolster Changi as a hub in terms of connections, particularly with the low-cost carriers.”
As Changi looks ahead to 2016 and as works continue for its Project Jewel development, the airport recently picked up its 500th best airport award. This is seen as a testament of the efforts that go into entrenching Changi as a key regional aviation hub and positioning itself as a key player in the future.
Artist's impression of Jewel, which Changi Airport expects will help capture the transit passenger segment. (Image: Changi Airport Group)
VITAL TO KEEP COSTS LOW AT CHANGI: JETSTAR ASIA
Jetstar Asia, which uses Singapore as a base, recently added three new routes to its network - Da Nang in Vietnam, and Palembang and Pekanbaru in Indonesia. The budget carrier has also launched partnerships with airlines such as SriLankan Airlines and Finnair, adding to the number of passengers passing through Singapore.
But to ensure the budget sector continues to flourish, Jetstar said keeping costs down at Changi is important.
Said Jetstar Asia CEO Barathan Pasupathi: “In 2016, even though fuel prices have come off in the market, our paramount challenge in Singapore is cost, relative to Southeast Asia. For Singapore, which is putting so much of investment in capital expenditure and in investments into airports - with Terminal 4, Terminal 5, Runway 3 - it's going to be very important to find a model where Singapore is cost competitive as a hub.”
2016: AN IMPORTANT YEAR FOR SIA
For national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA), 2015 has been an eventful year. It gained a stronger foothold in India with its new joint-venture airline Vistara and also launched its premium economy class in August.
SIA Premium Economy Class seats that recline back further, inclusive of calf rests for passengers. (Photo: Dylan Loh)
Partnerships with other airlines is also one key area SIA has worked on, with 8,000 code share flights now, 6,000 more than five years ago. One recent tie up is with Lufthansa, which will see both airlines cooperate on key routes between Singapore and Europe - including revenue sharing agreements and expanded codeshare ties. More recently, SIA proposed a takeover bid for Tiger Airways, which it hopes to delist and privatise.
On the full service carrier front, 2016 looks set to be an important year for SIA. It will take delivery of its new Airbus A350 planes in January, with services commencing in April, starting with flights to Amsterdam. This will also boost its Premium Economy offerings.
SIA has also announced it will resume non-stop flights to the US in 2018, using the new ultra-long-range variant of the A350s. SIA has been seeking to integrate its group operations to fight off competition from both low cost and full service rivals.
Said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong: "Doing all these new things did not detract us from also focusing to make sure that the core SIA proposition continues. Which is of course customer service, product innovation as well as network development."