Changi boom, travellers' boon

Travellers and tourists at the arrival hall of Changi Airport Terminal 1.
Travellers and tourists at the arrival hall of Changi Airport Terminal 1.PHOTO: ST FILE

After a slow first half, passenger traffic at Changi Airport seems to have picked up.

In July, Changi handled 4.89 million passengers, a 6.8 per cent increase from the same month last year.

The jump - the biggest in almost two years - is due to strong demand across all key markets.

Last month's numbers, not officially released yet, are believed to be fairly strong, and those for this month should be fine too, with the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix expected to draw crowds.

But does this signify a turnaround for Changi Airport, which has been hit in the last two years by a slowdown in the low-cost carrier segment?

Last year, total traffic hit a record 54.1 million, but year-on-year growth was a paltry 0.7 per cent - the lowest since 2009. Between January and July, traffic grew by 1.1 per cent.

Aviation analysts have mixed views on the forecast for the next few months, but the general consensus is that Changi should see better numbers from next year, if not this year.

Budget airlines are starting to add capacity again, and Singapore Airlines (SIA) expects to ramp up its passenger numbers with the arrival of its first few Airbus 350 wide-body planes in the coming months.

Changi needs an upturn, having lagged behind key rivals including Hong Kong International Airport.

From January to June this year, Hong Kong's airport handled 33.6 million passengers, a 9.1 per cent jump from the same period last year. In July, passenger traffic was up by 6.6 per cent.

Changi's push to bring its numbers up will eventually benefit travellers.

For example, last month, the airport welcomed three new airlines - Indonesia's Batik Air, Thai Lion Air and Myanmar National Airlines.

Travellers can also expect more convenient flight connections and timings as the airport works with home carriers SIA, SilkAir, Tigerair and Scoot to enhance Singapore's connectivity.

In the end, Changi's gain will be a boon for travellers too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Changi boom, travellers' boon'. Print Edition | Subscribe