A recent pick-up in passenger numbers could signal the start of a recovery for Changi Airport which has seen sluggish growth over the last year, a senior airport executive said yesterday.
Airlines, especially budget carriers that had cut flights amid an oversupply, are now starting to increase them again, according to Changi Airport Group's senior vice-president for market development, Mr Lim Ching Kiat.
In July, the airport handled 4.89 million passengers, registering a year-on-year growth of 6.8 per cent - the highest in almost two years.
Although last month's figures have yet to be announced, Mr Lim revealed that they are in the same range. He added: "We have two strong months, so there is some indication that things might be just turning. We are cautious, but looking at the general health of airlines and new services we have been announcing, it does seem that things are coming back again."
Last year, the airport handled a record 54.1 million passengers but the growth of 0.7 per cent was the smallest since 2009. Between January and July this year, traffic increased by 1.1 per cent.
We are cautious but looking at the general health of airlines and new services we have been announcing, it does seem that things are coming back again.
MR LIM CHING KIAT, Changi Airport Group's senior vice-president for market development, on the airport turning around
Key markets like China and Indonesia are tipped to do well by industry analysts. Mr Lim said: "We now have links to 28 Chinese cities and expect to increase this to 31 or 32 by year-end."
The Singapore-Jakarta route - already Singapore's busiest and the second busiest international route worldwide, after Hong Kong-Taipei - also continues to grow.
Mr Lim was speaking to The Straits Times at an event at the airport yesterday to welcome the arrival of Indonesian full-service carrier, Batik Air. A subsidiary of the Lion Air Group, Batik Air started flying twice a day between Jakarta and Singapore last month.
Before that, there were 11 airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Jetstar, Tigerair and Garuda Indonesia, operating a total of 4,290 flights a week between the two cities.
Batik Air's chief executive officer, Mr Achmad Luthfie, is confident there is more than enough business to go around. He said: "Singapore is a key market and our first international destination. With a growing demand for air travel by both business and leisure travellers, we believe there is room for even more growth on the Jakarta-Singapore route and are planning to grow to five daily flights."
Batik Air is also keen to offer flights between Singapore and other Indonesian cities such as Surabaya and Bali.