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Changi Airport leading air travel recovery in Asia Pacific, will continue ramping up capacity

The recovery at Changi Airport is expected to continue and pick up pace when key markets in north-east Asia fully reopen their borders, says Transport Minister S Iswaran.

Changi Airport leading air travel recovery in Asia Pacific, will continue ramping up capacity

Travellers arrive at Changi Airport in Singapore on Apr 1, 2022. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Changi Airport is leading the recovery of air travel within the Asia-Pacific region, said Transport Minister S Iswaran on Tuesday (Aug 2).  

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Iswaran said that Changi Airport is “ahead in terms of both international passenger traffic and city links vis-a-vis pre-COVID levels” as of June, compared to major Asia-Pacific air hubs, such as Incheon, Hong Kong and Bangkok. 

As of the first week of July, weekly passenger traffic at Changi Airport has recovered to about 55 per cent of 2019’s average weekly levels. This is on the back of weekly passenger services by airlines recovering to more than 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, added Mr Iswaran. 

“Changi is also connected to 108 cities by passenger flights as of July 2022, which is more than 65 per cent of the number of cities it was connected to before the pandemic,” the minister said. 

As demand for air travel remains “fundamentally strong”, Changi Airport's recovery is expected to continue and to gather pace when key markets in north-east Asia, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan fully reopen their borders. 

RAMPING UP CAPACITY 

To meet anticipated traveller flows, Mr Iswaran noted that Changi Airport will reopen Terminal 4 from Sep 13, and will start departure operations in the southern wing of Terminal 2 in October.

"This will enable the airport to handle up to pre-COVID passenger traffic levels, or about 70 million passengers per annum, which represents about 80 per cent of Changi’s pre-COVID capacity," said the minister.

Aviation stakeholders are working hard to build up their manpower and restore the "traveller experience that Changi is renowned for", he said.

“With the efforts and support of the entire aviation community and our partners, we will be ready to welcome more passengers and airlines back to Singapore, and ultimately restore Changi’s position as a pre-eminent global air hub.” 

Responding to MP Louis Chua (WP-Sengkang) about target passenger numbers for this year and next year, Mr Iswaran pointed out that it is difficult to set a target at this stage of Singapore’s recovery. 

He said key markets such as China, Japan and north-east Asia in general are still working their way through their recovery from COVID-19.

At the moment, the focus remains on ramping up Changi Airport's capacity.

“Now that in itself is no mean feat, because what it means is we have to now further ramp up manpower ... We have had an attrition of about one-third of the workforce in the aviation ecosystem in the course of COVID-19,” added Mr Iswaran. 

“Recovering from that, not just in terms of recruitment, but in terms of making sure that the manpower is operationally ready, is a major challenge. And one only has to consider the experience in many other airports around the world to appreciate the enormity of the task.”

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Source: CNA/gy(mi)

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