Changi readies for Chinese New Year peak

Besides locals jetting off, visitors from China are expected to account for large share of traffic increase

Changi Airport is gearing up for another busy weekend, a month after the Christmas and year-end holidays - and not just because of locals travelling during the Chinese New Year (CNY) break.

More travellers from China are also expected to account for a significant share of the traffic increase.

Changi expects to handle 5,400 flights in the five days from yesterday to Monday. This is about 8 per cent higher than the number of flights during the CNY period last year, which fell in February.

Typically, there are more flights during the festive week compared with the week just before, Changi Airport Group said. Spokesman Ivan Tan told The Straits Times total passenger traffic last year was 5.4 per cent higher during the celebration week, compared with the preceding seven-day period.

The same trend is expected this year, especially for flights to and from China. Xiamen Airlines, for example, has 60 additional services from Jan 21 to Feb 8, between Singapore and Xiamen, Fuzhou and Hangzhou.

AMONG FAVOURED STOPS

Singapore comes in fourth in the list of top destinations these travellers (from China) are visiting.

MR TODD ARTHUR, vice-president of sales and market development for Sabre Travel Network Asia-Pacific.

Several airlines are also adding capacity by deploying larger aircraft on popular routes such as to Shanghai and Guangzhou, he said.

The Chinese authorities expect holidaymakers to make 2.5 billion trips by land, 356 million by rail, 58 million by plane and 43 million by sea over the 40-day spring festival, most of which involve going home.

But more Chinese are also trying to escape the frenzy by going abroad. According to China's state media, six million people did this last year. And Singapore is one top destination.

Mr Todd Arthur, vice-president of sales and market development for Sabre Travel Network Asia-Pacific, said: "Singapore comes fourth in the list of top destinations these travellers (from China) are visiting, after Thailand, Japan and the USA.

"With its foodie status and the lure of high-end shopping - from Orchard Road to duty-free deals in one of the world's most efficient airports (Changi) - all within easy reach of many top tourist attractions, it's no surprise Singapore is high up on this list."

To welcome them and other visitors, as well as locals planning to visit the airport, Changi has adorned its terminals with festive decorations, including cherry blossom trees.

More than 90 per cent of shops and restaurants in the public areas will also be open during the first three days of Chinese New Year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Changi readies for Chinese New Year peak'. Print Edition | Subscribe